Do Sleep And Stress Have Anything To Do With Immune Protection?

Remember when Mom used to say that staying out too late would cause you to get sick? Mom was right!

Experts say that not only does prolonged sleep deprivation wear down immune protection but getting adequate rest can help boost your immune defenses. Make sure you get enough sleep and go to bed at a reasonable hour. During cold and flu season give your immune defenses an extra boost by getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night.

Since your body regenerates, repairs and renews itself while sleeping, it is important to include “quiet time” as part of your day when you can unwind and learn the value of being calm. Try and listen to peaceful music at some point during your day.

Take this time to relax and be happy even if it is for only 20-30 minutes a day. This will aid in your immune protection. It is worth every minute!

Even though we don’t know the exact mechanism by which sleep impacts immunity, we do know that a lack of it prevents the body from repairing cells. And when we skip that important physiological step, we reduce our immune defenses and get sick more easily.

What Affects Immune protection? Much like soldiers who grow weary in battle, your immune cells can also lose some of their protective effects when your body is constantly battling poor health habits.

As such, it’s not surprising that doctors frequently recommend certain lifestyle changes as a way to optimize the function of your immune defenses.

The most important thing you can do for your immune protection is to achieve lifestyle balance and adopt the fundamentals of healthy living. This will give your immune system what it needs to function at optimal capacity.

At the top of that balance list: reducing stress. There is overwhelming evidence that stress and the substances secreted by the body during stress negatively impacts your immune protection.

The good news is that lowering your stress can help your body maintain both your physical and your emotional health. People who have less stress are simply healthier overall.

In addition to what you eat, certain lifestyle changes can boost your immune defenses, including:
Washing your hands thoroughly and often with soap and warm water, particularly before eating and after using the bathroom.

This reduces the number of organisms that can enter your body. Cooking meat thoroughly to kill dangerous bacteria and other microorganisms.

Getting at least 8 hours of sleep every day, deep sleep stimulates and energizes the immune system. Maintaining a healthy weight, obesity can lead to weakened immune protection.

Exercising at least 30 minutes most days of the week. Physical activity stimulates the immune defenses and helps with weight maintenance or reduction.

Consuming alcohol moderately, if you drink alcohol, little and often will do you the most good. If you drink to much it can dramatically decrease your immune protection.

People who regularly drink small amounts of alcohol tend to live longer than people who don’t drink at all. Alcohol helps prevent coronary heart disease in people who are at a stage of life when coronary heart disease is a risk.

For men this is over the age of 40 and for women it’s after the menopause. The health benefits come from regularly drinking small amounts; the maximum benefit is achieved by drinking between one and two units of alcohol a day.

Eating less sugar, 100 grams of sugar, the amount in one 12-ounce can of regular soda, can reduce the ability your immune defenses to kill germs by 40 percent for up to 5 hours!

Give up smoking, it is the biggest single risk to your health after inactivity. Smokers have shorter lives due to lung cancer, cancer of the bladder, mouth and other organs, heart disease, bronchitis, asthma and other conditions.

And it’s not just lungs and hearts that are at risk, smoking will also slow down your rate of healing and weaken your immune protection. That’s bad news if you need an operation or injure yourself.

Be positive, this gives us a rosier view of life, and boosts our immune defenses as well. Every day, spend 20 minutes focused on a really uplifting thought or memory – you will feel better and your immune protection will get a boost.

All of these are possible kinds of behaviors you can change or focus on to boost your immune protection. Of course, there are things out of our control, such as genes and family histories, but if people incorporate healthier patterns into their daily living, they increase the likelihood for better health.

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