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Sleep & immune systemIn brief: Viruses infect our cells by docking onto their surface and using their own genetic information to 'reprogram' them so that they produce new viruses. When this process is complete, the infected cell dies and releases new viruses, which in turn can infect other cells. The so-called T-cells (T-lymphocytes), which are also known as the warriors of the immune system, can recognize infected cells and switch them off at an early stage. In order for our T-cells to work optimally, sleep is extremely important. Studies show that after just three hours of lack of sleep, the function of the T cells and thus 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, on the study data collected by the University of Tübingen. So does the saying sleep is the best medicine have a legitimate origin? Yes! “Anyone who sleeps sufficiently well and restfully is doing something good for their immune system. 7-8 hours of sleep per night is recommended”. Healthy and sufficiently long sleep supports the body in the fight against viruses. On the other hand, those who regularly sleep too little are significantly more susceptible to illnesses or infections.
With a few basic sleep tips, healthy sleep can be easily promoted and the positive effects on the immune system improved.
Sleep tips for a strong immune system
#1 Keep regular bedtimes
Sticking to regular daily routines and fixed bed times is often not that easy - especially in the current situation. Despite home office, short-time work or alternating shifts, you should try to maintain a fixed sleep-wake cycle. The reason for this lies in our internal, biological clock, also known as the circadian rhythm. Changing bedtime too quickly or too often throws this rhythm out of balance, can have a negative impact on falling asleep and rob us of valuable minutes and hours of sleep.
A consistent sleep-wake cycle is the basis for a good night's sleep - that's why unscheduled Netflix sessions and the series marathon in the evening should be kept within a healthy framework and not overdone.
#2 Choose the right sleeping environment
Millions of people around the world have been working from home for weeks and months. 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 of the sleeping environment. If that is not possible, you should at least pay attention to fixed working hours and deliberately separate them 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 physically active
Regular exercise and physical activity 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. We have recorded for you in this article exactly how you use sport to promote your sleep.
It is particularly important not to overload yourself acutely, because excessive physical exhaustion and overexertion can disturb your sleep.
Note #4 vitamin-rich diet
Our eating habits have a direct impact on our sleep and immune system. Heavy, high-fat meals should be avoided before going to bed, as they greatly stimulate digestion and thus make it difficult to fall asleep. It is also advisable to avoid caffeinated foods in the last 3-4 hours before bedtime. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system and prevents 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 dealt with the biochemical processes during sleep.
Because 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 balanced diet rich in vitamins supports our health, especially before going to bed and Defence.
Sleep supports health and the immune system, because the longer we sleep, the more immune cells function
A regular sleep-wake cycle has a positive effect on falling asleep and promotes restful sleep
A quiet sleeping environment helps you fall asleep and stay asleep. To do this, consciously separate the workplace and bedroom as well as work and rest times
Sport and exercise support sleep. You can find out exactly how this works in our article How sport promotes sleep!
Greetings and see you soon!