A properly functioning immune system keeps you healthy and prevents infections and diseases. Our immunity is a wonderful system that recognises bacteria, viruses [ ... ]
Why sleep is so important for your immunity
These days we read and hear all kinds of things about how to strengthen our immune system. This article will tell you all about why good sleep is so important for good immunity.
If we do it right we take vitamins, drink water, lower stress, take cold showers and do more physical exercise. I personally always advise not to overdo the exercise and anything that can give adrenaline kicks because adrenaline keeps our immune system in action mode. But furthermore about this.
Good sleep strengthens the immunity
The most important thing to strengthen your immunity is good sleep. We need regular and deep sleep in a good bio-rhythm to strengthen our immune system. A good night’s sleep is the cheapest medicine, restless sleepers can get all kinds of disturbances in their system body that can create illnesses. For example diabetes, heart diseases, obesity, high blood pressure, etc. But one of the main facts about not having a good sleep, it weakens our immune system.
Sleeping in a dark room makes the most melatonin?
The most perfect sleep is 7 hours of a deep sleep, in a dark room, with no distracting lights. This allows our system to make the most melatonin, which gives you a good undisturbed sleep. Six hours of sleep hardly seems to be enough, less than 7 hours of sleep already creates a higher risk of diabetes and obesity. When we get little sleep our metabolism slows down, and we start eating more to get more energy. The food to get this energy piles up, so we gain weight. Scientists claim that without good sleep, seven hundred genes in our body begin to work differently than they should.
In our sleep, we need to break down fat cells to create energy for our immune system and cell repair. Therefore, when we have just fallen asleep, our pituitary gland releases growth hormone to promote cell repair. We also detox during the night, we breathe, we have a heartbeat, etc. and we need energy for that. The fats that we ate during that day are consumed at night. Therefore, it is crucial that fats have a very good quality so that our body can easily break them down. A low body fat percentage doesn’t give the body the energy at night to recover and nourish the immune system. Therefore, being underweight is very dangerous, for example, it disrupts hormones and immunity. Good quality fats are for example virgin coconut oil, virgin olive oil, MCT oil. There are more good fats, but we will talk in another blog about this.
Bodybuilders are maybe beautiful but not always wise
I have counseled a lot of athletes especially bodybuilders with very low-fat percentages. A good build body can be truly beautiful, but shredding fat is certainly not always wise. They get most of the time bad pockmarked and dry skin, their hormones get in disbalance. They often wake up during the night after a few hours of sleep, because putting their body under this amount of stress, creates a too high-level of adrenaline. A lot of bodybuilders have low-grade inflammation because of how they put their bodies under a lot of stress. Lots of symptoms are related to having too low a body fat percentage, the athletes I counseled all knew this. But they all told me that their muscle beauty comes before real health. Not having your immunity working correctly is a big consequence of eating hardly any fat.
There are so many people in this world who are believing in a low-fat diet, told by old-school doctors. There are so many young people not eating well because of beauty images. But also our seniors living in a caretaker situation they are also deprived of good fats. I have seen people aged so fast because their skin didn’t get the good amounts of perfect fats every day. But anyhow I think I made my point. Good fats are extremely needed for a good functioning body.
Cortisol shuts down our immunity
When we sleep too short or without good quality, hormones like cortisol, ghrelin, and leptin (the last two hormones that tell us when we are hungry or when we are satiated) get out of balance. Cortisol, however, is needed to shut down our immune system when it is done attacking invaders. If our immunity isn’t shut down adequately it continues attacking cells, eventually, start breaking down our good cells. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4465119/
So a good level of cortisol is crucial for a well-functioning immunity.
Adrenaline is the energy source for the immune system, it fires it up and sets it to work. A very good balance is needed in action and rest. Constant adrenaline and too little cortisol are, therefore, immunity disrupting. Hence, why exercising a lot every day is not always good. If your immunity is "on" then the heart rate and blood pressure increase, it also gives the body anxiety. This also is a big reason for not sleeping well, turning and tossing around.
With good sleep our body resets
With a good night's sleep our immunity, hormones, and neurotransmitters get the chance to totally reset themselves. Also, they are readjusted and so our vital body and brain functions remain in balance.
Without adequate sleep, your body produces fewer cytokines, the protein that targets infections and inflammation, effectively creating an immune response. Cytokines are both produced and released during sleep, they are the good helpers that help us for example fight viruses.
To stay healthy, especially during flu season, you should get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep per night. This will help keep your immune system in perfect fighting shape.
If we don't sleep well or long enough, our melatonin production won't be as high as it needs to be. When this doesn't happen, our human growth hormone doesn't peak either and therefore our cortisol levels will be very low in the morning. Cortisol levels need to be very high in the morning to give us energy and action after we wake up. In the evening, cortisol tempers so that melatonin can be produced, etc. If we wake up very tired and cranky, our cortisol levels in the morning may no longer be sufficient.
Good melatonin levels are needed for good sleep
Properly functioning cortisol levels are crucial for an adequately functioning immune system, so sleep and melatonin production makes this possible
Which foods contain melatonin:
- Sunflower seeds
- Goji berries
Eating a handful of sunflower seeds and some almonds in the evening works especially well. Because of the high level of sugars in bananas, you better don’t eat them for sleeping. In the evening it is better not to eat any carbohydrates because this is converted into glucose, also this keeps you more active than you should be, in order to sleep.
What is also very important for good sleep, is to think about your nutrition. You may have understood that your food when you are intolerant to it, is attacked by your immunity. When your immunity has to fight constantly, it requires adrenaline which also raises your heart rate and your blood pressure. Maybe you recognize it when you sometimes eat something and an hour later you sit with a pounding heart. Adrenaline is floating through your body to fire up the immunity to attack and eliminate the intruders (intolerant food).
Eating a lot of sugars and drinking caffeine disrupts your sleep too
It often occurs that you fall easy to sleep but wake up after a few hours, totally awake. Eat something with some fats and no carbs, it will make you able to fall asleep again. In addition, if you have regular bowel problems then adjust your diet. In any case, stop drinking caffeine afternoon at 2 pm. If you are someone who drinks energy-drinks or lots of alcohol, then stop that too. Eating a lot of sugars also disrupts sleep.
Everyone has many more intolerances to food than they might think, and it is wise to do thorough research on your diet. If you eliminate certain intolerant foods, it greatly enhances your sleep. Your immunity becomes stronger because it doesn't have to attack just your food. It keeps energy left over to attack serious invaders in keeping you healthy.
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