Adequate, quality sleep is critical for every aspect of the human body. However, with the growing demands of today and late night culture, sleep is easily pushed to the side lines.
Your Circadian Rhythm is a natural process that controls your sleep-wake cycle. The sleep-wake cycle is determined by complex interactions between the central nervous system, endocrine system, and the immune system.
Sleep and your immune system are closely connected. A strong immune system is needed to heal wounds, fight off infections, and protect you from many illnesses.
Uninterrupted, deep sleep for 7-8 hours each night can strengthen the immune system.
Whereas, sleep challenges, like insomnia, sleep apnea or circadian rhythm disruption (think shift workers), can interfere with healthy functions of the immune system.
Do you feel:
- Sleepy and tired throughout the day?
- Always irritated?
- Have problems with focussing on one thing at a time?
- Struggle memorizing / remembering things?
- Always sick?
If you answered yes to 1 or more of the above, then sleep may be something you want to prioritize.
During sleep, certain components of the immune system rev up and the production of Cytokines occurs. For example, the increased production of cytokines which are associated with inflammation and fighting off viruses increases during sleep. When someone is ill or injured, this inflammatory response can help speed up the repair and healing time. But you need to be sleeping in order for this to happen. Lack of sleep makes it challenging to fight off viruses and illnesses and suppresses your immune system.
This is why your body wants to sleep more when you’re sick. So it can heal quicker!