Every day our immune system performs amazing things - it protects against bacteria, viruses and other pathogens. Sufficient exercise, a vitamin-rich diet and healthy sleep are three well-known measures for strengthening the immune system and preventing disease. What is less known, however, is that sleep is almost the most important prerequisite for an optimally working immune system. Why this is so, we explain here:
Table of contents
Sleep & immune system
In short, viruses infect our cells by attaching to their surface and 'reprogramming' them to produce new viruses using their own genetic information. When this process is complete, the infected cell dies and releases new viruses, which can then infect other cells. The so-called T-cells (T-lymphocytes), also known as warriors of the immune system, can recognise infected cells and switch them off early. In order for our T-cells to work optimally, sleep is extremely important. Studies show: after only three hours of sleep deprivation, the function of the T-cells and thus of the immune system is impaired.
"These results clearly indicate that our immune system is directly related to the length and quality of our sleep," says Dr. Markus Dworak, sleep researcher and smartsleep® expert, about the study data collected by the University of Tübingen. So does the saying " sleep is the best medicine " have a legitimate origin? Yes, "If you sleep well and restful enough, you do something good for your immune system. 7 - 8 hours of sleep per night are recommended". Healthy and sufficiently long sleep supports the body in its fight against viruses. On the other hand, those who regularly sleep too little are much more susceptible to diseases or infections.
With a few basic sleep tips, healthy sleep can easily be promoted and the positive effects on the immune system improved.
Sleeping tips for a strong immune system
#1 Maintain regular bed times
It is often not so easy to stick to regular daily routines and fixed bed times - especially in the current situation. Despite home office, short-time work or alternating shifts, you should try to maintain a fixed sleep-wake rhythm. The reason for this lies in our inner, biological clock, also called circadian rhythm. Changing the bedtime too quickly or too frequently throws this rhythm out of balance, can have a negative effect on falling asleep and thus rob us of valuable minutes and hours of sleep.
A steady sleep-wake rhythm is the basis for good sleep - that's why unscheduled Netflix sessions and the serial marathon in the evening should be kept within a healthy framework and not exaggerated.
#2 Choosing the right sleeping environment
For weeks and months millions of people worldwide have been sitting in their home office. In some cases, the bedroom is then converted into a study - but unfortunately, using the sleeping area for work is not recommended! Ideally, the work area should be outside the sleeping environment. If this is not possible, one should at least pay attention to fixed working hours and consciously separate these from rest periods.
A dark and quiet bedroom with a room temperature between 16 °C and 18 °C is well suited for optimal rest and restful sleep.
#3 Get enough exercise and be active
Regular exercise and sporting activities stimulate the metabolism in the brain and body and promote sleep. Sport is therefore even recommended by the German Society for Sleep Research to improve sleep. However, the positive effect depends on general physical fitness and the time and type of activity. In this article, we have recorded for you how exactly you can promote sleep through sport.
Above all, it is important not to overstrain yourself acutely, because too much physical exhaustion and overstraining can disturb sleep.
#4 Observe vitamin-rich diet
Our eating habits have a direct influence on our sleep and the immune system. Before going to bed, heavy, high-fat meals should be avoided, as they strongly stimulate digestion and thus make it difficult to fall asleep. In the last 3-4 hours before going to bed, it is also advisable to avoid foods containing caffeine. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system and prevents you from falling asleep and staying asleep. However, there are also nutrients that have a positive effect on sleep patterns and our immune system. "Essential repair and recovery processes take place during sleep. Vitamins, minerals and amino acids can play an important supporting role here, as they control numerous physiological processes" says our expert Dr. Markus Dworak, who has long studied the biochemical processes during sleep.
Since many vitamins (for example vitamin A, vitamin B6 or vitamin C), amino acids and minerals (such as zinc and selenium) are involved in the healthy functioning of the immune system, a vitamin-rich and balanced diet supports our health and resistance, especially before going to bed.
Sleep supports health and the immune system, because with the length of sleep the function of the defence cells increases
A regular sleep-wake rhythm has a positive effect on the ability to fall asleep and promotes restful sleep
A quiet sleeping environment helps you fall asleep and sleep through the night. To this end, consciously separate work and bedroom as well as working and rest periods from each other
Sport and exercise support sleep. How exactly this works, you can find out in our article sport promotes sleep!
Love and see you soon!