Now that the colder months are here and flu season is almost in full effect, we are doing all we can to protect ourselves from getting sick. From taking vitamins to washing our hands regularly, and getting vaccinated, we’re avoiding these germs at all costs. However, one habit that has a huge impact on our immune systems and most of us neglect, is a healthy sleep schedule. So if you’re someone that is prone to getting sick in the winter, you may want to reevaluate how much sleep you’re getting.
How Does Sleep Affect Your Immune System
Several studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between your immune system and sleep. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body makes fewer cytokines, which are proteins that target infection and inflammation. These cytokines are produced and released during sleep, which create your immune response. When you chronically get below the recommended amount of sleep, your body’s production of cytokines decreases.
Getting Enough Sleep
In order to produce enough cytokines for your body to maintain a healthy immune system this winter, it’s essential to make sure you’re getting an adequate amount of sleep. Developing a consistent sleep schedule where you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day (yes, even on weekends!) can help. In addition to getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night, taking naps can help supplement your sleep schedule during a busy week. Taking 30-minute naps, one in the morning and one in the afternoon can help to alleviate the negative effects that sleep deprivation can have on your immune system. For other tips on getting a good night’s rest, check out our previous post about how winter affects your sleep.