The simple explanation of the Immune System is it’s your bodies defense system. When functioning properly it identifies foreign bodies like bacteria, viruses, parasites and toxins and destroys them. These are basically the things that make us sick.
As with all of your body systems there are lifestyle choices that can support or stress your immune system which can lead to illness or disease. This week I’ll be sharing my top tips for supporting your immune system so it can fight off all the seasonal bugs.
My #1 tip for Supporting your Immune System is get 7-8 hours of quality sleep every night.
What’s the most common first sign that you’re getting sick? For most people, it’s feeling run down or tired. This is your bodies way of telling you it needs more rest, yet many people ignore it. I can’t tell you how many of my friends over the years have called to tell me they are starting to feel like they’re getting sick and asked “what can I take?” I tell them to take a nap.
Studies show that people who don’t get enough sleep or get poor quality sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus. Lack of sleep can also increase the duration of the symptoms for the virus.
When we sleep certain disease-fighting chemicals, proteins and hormones are released or created when we sleep. Your body needs the substances to fight of disease and infection. Not getting enough sleep decrease the availability of these substances leaving us more vulnerable to every virus and bacteria we encounter.
Generally, adults need 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Children and teens need 9-11 hours of consistent quality sleep.
Tips for better sleep
- Go to bed and wake at the same time each day
- Remove electronics and as much light as possible from the bedroom
- Avoid using lighted screens for at least 1 hour before bed
- Avoid caffeine or at least cut back if you aren’t sleeping well
- Avoid alcohol, many people think that a drink or 2 after dinner helps them relax, but alcohol raises your cortisol which can interfere with sleep
- Create a night time ritual
- Essential oils or herbal teas
If you have frequent or chronic insomnia there may be underlying issues that need to be addressed. Things like hormone imbalances, vitamin and mineral deficiencies or food senesitivities that can easily be addressed once identified.