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Better Immunity with Rest and Sleep

health real life Apr 08, 2020

The immune system and our immune response vary greatly with our sleep and rest patterns.
While sleep is easy to define, rest (for our purposes) has two types.
 - rest after physical exertion
 - resting from mental activity: i.e.: meditation
While this sounds quite familiar for most of you, we do need to remember and practice the fundamentals.

The human immune system and sleep both are associated and influenced by each other. Sleep deprivation makes a living body susceptible to many infectious agents.
The current situation requires improved sleep habits to make the immune system efficient for a healthy life. [1]

A lot of information is available to promote this exercise or that workout.
For good health, good immunity and actual longevity, it’s the rest and repair breaks in-between that make the difference. We do too much and slip into depletion territory.

Stress is the background of many illnesses. It depletes important nutrients, increases inflammation and saps your energy. Rest and sleep, as well as stress mitigating strategies, keep your defences high. [2]

A strong immune system is build over time. Higher general fitness equates to a more robust immune system. Short term exercises, such as walking or callisthenics, even when practiced over a few months, don’t produce the same immune strength as found in someone with existing high physical conditioning. This applies also to the elderly population. Fitness matters in all age groups. [3]

Rest after physical exercise allows the immune system to catch up to the stress level of the intensity of the exercise. Good stress is short term stress that is balanced with adequate periods of rest and sleep. Good stress, after rest and sleep, improves your immune function and readiness.
Bad stress, prolonged stress without rest and sleep to balance it, depresses your immune abilities. [4]
So keep in mind, stress isn’t bad. Your ability to rest and sleep make the difference.

Mental stress is also a type of stress that can negatively effect our immune status.
Luckily there are so many different types of meditation and mindfulness practices. These give rest to stressful brain activities and actively turn on stress reducing parts of the brain.
Meditation not only changes brain function, it also boosts your immune response readiness. [5]

How about sleep then?
Sleep duration and quality are directly linked to the state of the immune system. [6]
An interesting study with identical twins found the twin that slept less had the lower immune system. [7]

Without sufficient sleep, your body makes fewer cytokines. Cytokines are a type of protein that targets infections and inflammation, effectively creating an immune response. Cytokines are both produced and released during sleep. [8]

This makes immunity look easy - something you can do in your sleep. Included here is also the formation of immunological memory, making your immunity last. [9]

Keep in mind though, next to stress management and sleep, there’s also exercise, nutrition, environment and mental attitude.

The next blog takes a look at how we can reduce inflammation in our bodies.
Stay healthy and sleep well.


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