Improve Sleep to Improve Immunity
by Dr. Gabrielle Francis
Anxiety and Stress can be affecting the quality of your Sleep.
And not getting enough sleep can have a negative impact on your health.
Sleep plays a powerful role in a healthy immune system. Whereas a lack of sleep can increase the likelihood of infection…and having an infection can also disrupt your sleep making recovery take longer.
Good quality and consistent sleep help to prepare your body to fight illness and it improves your overall health and well-being.
Sleep and Immunity
Did you know that sleep is one of your body’s first lines of defense and immunity? During sleep your body produces proteins called cytokines that fight infection and inflammation. Cytokines are mobilized when you are exposed to infections, have inflammation or under stress. When you are deprived of sleep in quality and quantity it can negatively impact your immune system recovery.
A good amount of sleep for general health maintenance is 7-9 hours per night. When you are in recovery and healing mode, it is recommended to get 10-12 hours of sleep.
That’s right, so don’t feel guilty if you are feeling like you need or want more sleep lately!
It is essential for you! The CDC estimates that 1/3 of Americans don’t get adequate sleep. I can attest to that as Sleep and Insomnia is one of the main problems that my patients present with.
How can you improve those Sleepless nights of tossing and turning?
First Start by Balancing your Sleep/Wake cycles and Circadian Rhythms:
- Wake up and go to Sleep at the same time every night...including on weekends.
- Get 1-2 hours of sunlight every day. If you can’t get outside, then sit by a window and get some indirect sunlight.
- Get physical activity during the day and avoid heavy exercise about 3 hours before sleeping.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and heavy meals about 3 hours before sleeping.
- Eat something with protein before bed to balance blood sugar.
- Disconnect from electronic devices, TV, and telephone about 1 hour before bed.
- Take time to unwind with quiet time, meditation, gentle stretching or calming bath about 1 hour before bed.
Make your Bedroom a Sleeping Sanctuary:
- Clean and Declutter your room.
- Keep room at a cool temperature.
- Make your room dark with darkening curtains to eliminate outside lights.
- Use calming colors in the bedroom such as blues, greens and purple.
- Get an aromatherapy diffuser and use essential oils of lavender, ylang ylang, jasmine, and sandalwood for relaxation.
- Limit noise and sound in the bedroom.
- Avoid using the bedroom for technology and work.
If these lifestyle recommendations are not enough to improve your sleep, you can consider getting your Adrenal Glands tested to see if there is an imbalance between your energizing hormones such as Adrenaline and Cortisol and your calming hormones such as Serotonin and GABA. When we are under stress, we often have excess levels of Adrenaline and Cortisol and lower levels of Serotonin and GABA. The imbalance between the calming and energizing hormones can lead to insomnia, anxiety, depression, and weight gain.
There are some herbs and supplements that can be used to improve sleep and most of them work by reducing Cortisol and building Serotonin and GABA. Then there are supplements that have a calming effect on the nervous system.
Here are some General Supplements that May Improve Sleep:
- Vitamin D-3
- Valerian Root
- Kava Kava
- Oat straw
- Hemp/CBD Oil
Here are some of my favorite products to improve sleep:
Natural Calm Magnesium by Natural Vitality
Natural Calm Bath Salts
Gabatrex by Neuroscience
Travacor By Neuroscience
Cortisol Manager by Integrative Therapeutics
Melatonin by Orthomolecular
Mostly, I encourage you to use this time of Downtime to Renew yourself and improve your health. Improving your sleep can be an enormous benefit to your overall health and well-being. If you make these changes while you have the time now, you can create a new rhythm for your life when things return to normal.
Wishing you Rest, Deep Sleep and Sweet Dreams…
Dr. Gabrielle Francis is a New York City Acupuncturist, Chiropractor and Naturopathic Doctor.