What do you feel most like doing when under the weather? Sleeping! Your body knows the value of sleep, and when you are dealing with an infection, it screams for sleep. Because sleep improves the ability of certain white blood cells to grab their targets, it is beneficial when sick, but also in preventing getting sick in the first place.
We are always fending off attacks from our environment, so we need the white blood cells to be working well all the time. Getting good sleep regularly is a key to good health. And the opposite – sleep disorders and high chronic stress – suppresses the effectiveness of the immune system. How do we know? Studies have looked at immune responses with sleep deprivation and with normal sleep during periods of high infection.
The Journal of the American Medical Association Published a study on the impact of sleep and lack of sleep was compared after a toxin was injected. Shortly after the injection, sleep deprivation hampered the antibody response while good sleep significantly improved the response. A few weeks later, after the immune system was no longer challenged, the effects diminished. A German study in the Journal of Experimental Medicine showed that certain “sticky” proteins activated by white blood cells to let them stick to their targets are suppressed by adrenaline and prostaglandin, which are high during stress and lowered during sleep. In other words, the immune system works better during sleep and is challenged during stress. When fighting infection, sleep as much as you can.
A Good Cycle
Sleep and stress are two sides of the same coin. It is the sleep side that we often sacrifice. If we are doing poorly with sleep habitually, we are leaving ourselves open to disease development. The body is constantly cycling. Certain hormones rise to get us going in the morning, and fall as we slow down at the end of the day and then sleep. The immune system requires energy that is diverted when stress tells the body we have an emergency that needs the body’s resources elsewhere. When we sleep, energy goes to healing and the immune system is more effective.
The first step to better sleep is regularity. Our natural rhythm is to slow down when the sun goes down, and get moving when the light level gradually rises. Second, the stress you experience during the day produces hormones which don’t simply disappear when you go to bed – they take time to drop off. Getting the most important priorities done early in the day may be helpful: get moving in the morning and tackle your big challenges early if you can. These are good first steps.
Dr. Nemec’s Comments:
Sleep is one of our 7 Basic Steps to Total Health foundational teaching that we have used to help thousands of people heal over the last 35 years. Always remember: the earlier you get to bed and the earlier you arise, the healthier your immune system will be. Your body clock or biorhythm matches the sun. When the sun rises you rise, when the sun sets you sleep. The closer you follow this pattern the stronger your immune system will be. How can I get to bed by 8pm you ask? It starts by getting up earlier so your body gets tired by 8pm. Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.
Dr. Keith Nemec
Total Health Institute