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Whether staying up late at night to get some work done or watching an extra hour of TV, most of us have sacrificed getting a well-rested night of sleep to stay up a little longer. A study from the CDC found that more than a third of Americans do not get enough sleep regularly. For many of us, sleep is not a priority, but it is more important than we think. Sleep is not just a way to feel rested. It is an essential function for both mental and physical health, especially when it comes to your immune system.
The immune system is your body’s defense against harm from bacteria, viruses, and toxins. While sleeping might not be the first thing you think of when it comes to keeping your immune system healthy, there is a strong link between getting enough sleep at night and having a healthy immune system. When you sleep, your body releases proteins called cytokines, which play a role in supporting an immune response. With chronic sleep loss, your body creates less cytokines, reducing the ability to respond to infection.
So how much sleep do you need to reap the immune system benefits? While sleeping requirements vary slightly from person-to-person, it is recommended that most healthy adults get between seven to nine hours of sleep a night. However, it’s not only the time length of sleep that matters but also the quality of sleep. Key signs of good quality sleep are falling asleep in 30 minutes or less, waking up no more than once per night, and being asleep 85 percent of the time you are in bed.
With flu season coming up and the coronavirus still being a threat, it is more important than ever to have a strong immune system, and one thing you can do to give it a boost is sleeping. Even if you do end up getting sick, a well-rested body is much more prepared to get you back on your feet.