Are you aware of all that goes on in your body when you sleep? Sleep is a time when your body fights infections, repairs damaged cells, detoxifies, regulates hormones, boosts your immune system, modulates metabolism, and relaxes muscles…including your brain.
When you give your body the sleep it needs, your immune cells get the rest and repair they need to protect you. Remember…your body wants to be your best friend; the one that supports you through hard times, boosts you up, and helps you feel your best as you navigate life’s ups and downs.
Sleep supports your heart, too. Just like your immune system, your heart needs rest to properly function. Lack of quality sleep can lead to high blood pressure, heart attack, and a weakened immune system. Key cellular players like white blood cells, natural killer (NK) cells, lymphocytes, regulatory T cells, and T helper cells are fortified by sleep, which in turn enhances your immune defenses.
According to healthy living expert Kristy Hall, BCHN®, when sleep is elusive, it is important to take action to improve the amount and quality of your sleep. The best way to do this is to place attention on your nightly routine, also known as sleep hygiene.
Here are Kristy’s top tips for creating a sleep routine that is immune supportive.
- Dim or turn off lights in the house to mimic the setting of the sun, a natural cue for the body to produce more of the sleep hormone melatonin.
- Drink a cup of soothing herbal tea, such as chamomile, an hour or so before bedtime. Chamomile is known to have relaxing properties that can aid a good night’s sleep.
- Soak in an Epsom salt bath with three or four drops of lavender essential oil, or put a drop of lavender oil on the bottoms of your feet. Lavender is known to promote calmness and help to reduce stress.
- Practice “box breathing” before turning out the lights. Breathe in deeply through your nose for a count of five, hold for a count of five, release for a count of five, and then relax for a count of five before taking your next breath. Repeat this cycle five to 10 times. Slow, deep breathing signals your brain to slow down.
- Turn the thermostat down to between 60 and 68 degrees (Fahrenheit) at night. This signals that it’s time for bed as the body starts to naturally experience a dip in temperature.
- Darken your bedroom as much as possible using blackout shades or wear an eye mask. Sleeping in complete darkness helps regulate levels of melatonin and has been known to reduce the risk of depression.
For added support, increase your intake of melatonin-promoting foods such as turkey, chicken, rice, bananas, pineapple, oats, tart cherries, Goji berries, fish, nuts, oranges, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and squashes.
As a healthy living expert, Kristy has an article about sleep hygiene to share with you. Contact Kristy to receive it.
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It may take time for your body to adjust to better sleep habits. The attention you place on your sleep hygiene will support your immune health and is well worth it!
To read more about supporting your immune system, get caught up here.
Until next time, keep shining your light!