More than two years after the outbreak, we are still battling the Kovid-19 outbreak – and that means building and maintaining a strong defense system should be a top priority.
As an immunologist and doctor of effective medicine, I always remind my patients that genetics, diet and exercise all play a role in our immune system, sleep is one of the most effective ways to prepare your body to fight infections.
If you don’t get enough sleep, your stress hormones may go out of control, which can affect your weight, gut health and immune defense.
Sleep: Strengthen your body, strengthen your immune system
Exercise is not enough to get high quality sleep. I see patients who go to the gym every day and accept sacrifices such as eliminating alcohol or sugar Still Sleep is not good.
In fact, about 50 million Americans suffer from some form of sleep disorder, and one in three people in the United States gets less than seven hours of sleep a night.
This, sadly, is affecting our health in many ways. Sleep deprivation not only makes us feel tired the next day, it also causes inflammation and increases our risk of disease. It has been linked to increased rates of high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, depression and cancer.
How to get good sleep
The good news is that as soon as you start prioritizing sleep, your immune system can rebound quickly.
I do six things each night to ensure a good night’s rest:
1. Reduce digital devices
You may be surprised at how much time you spend surfing the web, watching TV, and scrolling through your phone. Once you are honest about what you do with your time, think about how you can reduce those unnecessary activities and reschedule sleep instead.
I recommend putting your phone and computer in a drawer at the same time every evening. Human behavior experts have found that the instinct to succeed in choosing a healthy lifestyle is low and that creating a lifestyle that makes these decisions easier.
2. Create an optimal sleeping environment
Your bedroom should be your sleeping sanctuary. You don’t need expensive linen, a weighted blanket or a cooling pad. A comfortable mattress, high quality pillow and soft bed will work just fine.
If you have electronics indicator lights in your bedroom, cover them with black electrical tape. If you have bright street lights outside your windows, use blackout screens. If you hear the sound of traffic, use a white sound machine to drown it out.
Lastly, make sure your bedroom is nice and cool (optimal temperature for sleep is around 65 degrees Fahrenheit or 18.3 degrees Celsius).
3. Calm your mind before going to sleep
Insomnia is often caused by gossiping about something that hasn’t happened – or may never happen.
One way to calm your mind and body is to do a journal before going to bed. Writing down your worries and processing them helps to clear up stressful thoughts so that they do not keep you awake at night.
Breathing exercises can also help. If I’m anxious or worried, or a little stretched, I use 4-5-7 breathing techniques:
- Sit quietly, place the tip of your tongue behind your front front teeth on the roof of your mouth and exhale with the word “hush”.
- Breathe silently through your nose for four seconds, hold your breath for seven counts and exhale through your nose for eight counts.
- Repeat this cycle three more times for a total of four rounds.
4. Test with magnesium
Magnesium is often referred to as a “rest” mineral, thanks to its demonstrated ability to combat insomnia.
You can always take a magnesium supplement, but one of my favorite ways to use it for sleep is to take a warm Epsom salt bath. Magnesium sulfate is the main ingredient in Epsom salt, and it can have a soothing effect on your skin and muscles.
Even just soaking in a warm bath helps you fall asleep faster.
5. Wear blue light-blocking glasses
Blue light destroys your body’s ability to prepare for sleep because it blocks a hormone called melatonin that makes you sleepy.
And in our home (i.e., from smartphones, tablets, computers) in terms of excessive amounts of blue light, blue light-blocking glasses are essential to me. Wearing these glasses has been shown to significantly improve sleep quality and reduce insomnia.
The best glasses usually have yellow or orange lenses and block a higher percentage, up to 90%, blue-spectral light. My favorite is Swanwick glasses, but there are several good manufacturers and prescription options as well.
6. Do some easy stretching
Applying stretching or restorative yoga before bed can help with pain, high blood pressure, restless leg syndrome, and anxiety. Just a few postures can engage your parasympathetic nervous system and help you sleep better.
I love to do leg-up-the-wall poses. And the best part is that you really only need five or more minutes to make a big difference.
In Dr. Heather mode A Board-Certified Allergist, Immunologist and Effective Medicine Physician. He is also the author of “Immunotype Breakthrough: Your personalized plan to balance your immune system, optimize health, and build lifelong resilience“Follow him on Instagram theimmunityMD And Facebook.