Over the years, research has highlighted the significance of good-quality sleep. A good night’s sleep can contribute to many aspects of your mental and physical well-being. According to a research paper published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, sleeping well contributes significantly to the proper functioning of your immune system. Although sleep doesn’t directly prevent you from falling sick, skimping on it affects your immunity adversely. This leaves you susceptible to illnesses.
Why Is Sleep So Important?
Sound sleep enhances the functionality of T cells, which are your body’s immune cells. The primary role of T cells is to protect the body against intracellular pathogens. They contribute to the body’s immunity when potentially harmful foreign bodies enter the system. T cells recognize the pathogens before activating the secretion of integrin, which is a type of protein that enables T cells to attack and kill cancer cells and virus-infected cells.
T cells show a higher level of integrin activation among individuals who get proper sleep, compared to those who sleep less. Therefore, sleep goes a long way in improving T cell functioning. If you sleep poorly, stress hormones might inhibit the ability of your body’s T cells to function effectively. This puts you at the risk of diseases. Furthermore, stress hormones diminish when you sleep. A high level of stress hormones in the body decreases the efficiency of T cells, and your body’s ability to kill pathogens.
Sleep and Cytokines
Cytokines are a type of protein that blocks the replication of pathogens in the body. These proteins prevent infection and inflammation, thus creating a natural immune barrier. Cytokines need to be secreted in plenty for your body to effectively defend itself against diseases. Without sufficient sleep, the body produces fewer cytokines, something that lowers your immune response.
Cytokines are primarily produced and released when you sleep. When you get less sleep, the production of cytokines will drastically reduce. Chronic sleep loss can halt the production of cytokines altogether. This lowers your body’s ability to respond to even the weakest pathogens, thus putting you at the risk of diseases.
Poor Sleep and Your General Health
Besides affecting your immune system directly, lack of proper sleep affects other body systems. These include the digestive, respiratory, cardiovascular, and endocrine systems. If either of these systems gets affected, your immune system could also be affected.
Here’s how poor sleep affects these systems.
The Respiratory System
Sleep affects your respiratory health, and vice versa. Respiratory disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea lower your sleep quality. When you sleep less, your immunity reduces, and this puts you at the risk of respiratory infections such as flu and common cold. Besides, it worsens existing respiratory illnesses such as chronic lung disease.
The Cardiovascular System
Sleep controls processes that keep your cardiovascular system healthy. It affects your blood pressure, blood sugar, and inflammation levels, which in turn affects your immunity. Besides, sleep plays a crucial role in the body’s ability to repair blood vessels and the heart. If you sleep less, you are likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease compared to those who sleep sufficiently.
The Endocrine System
The body’s hormone production depends on the amount of sleep that you get. For instance, growth hormone production gets interrupted when you sleep for fewer hours. The optimum production of growth hormone is particularly essential among children and adolescents. They need it to build body mass as well as for the repair of cells and tissues. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, growth hormone increases your body’s immune function.
Why Do People Sleep Inadequately?
The benefits of getting a good night’s sleep are well-documented. Even so, few people prioritize getting sufficient sleep. Sleep should be seen as an essential component of your daily healthcare regimen. You should keep in mind that you need at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night.
Often, people fail to sleep sufficiently due to physical factors as well as sleep disorders. Here are some of the most common sleep disorders that many people suffer from:
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Restless leg syndrome
- Circadian rhythm disorders
A Good Mattress Helps You to Sleep Better
Ideally, you should spend a third of your day in bed. Whether you spend this time slumbering blissfully or turning and tossing depends on your mattress. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, a good mattress should be one that reduces your body’s pressure points when you sleep. It shouldn’t restrict the flow of blood to different parts of the body or interrupt your sleep in any way.
As any buying guide that you’ll come across will tell you, finding a suitable mattress isn’t about choosing the highest-tech brand or buying an expensive unit. Rather than focusing on price or brand name, the purchasing decision should be influenced by your sleeping style and preexisting physical or medical conditions.
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