Lack of Sleep: Can it Make You Sick?
Lack of sleep can affect your immune system. Studies show that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as the common cold. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.
During sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines, some of which help promote sleep. Certain cytokines need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you’re under stress. Sleep deprivation may decrease production of these protective cytokines. In addition, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when you don’t get enough sleep.
So, your body needs sleep to fight infectious diseases. Long-term lack of sleep also increases your risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease.
How Much Sleep Do I Need?
How much sleep do you need to bolster your immune system? The optimal amount of sleep for most adults is seven to eight hours of good sleep each night. Teenagers need nine to 10 hours of sleep. School-aged children may need 10 or more hours of sleep.
But more sleep isn’t always better. For adults, sleeping more than nine to 10 hours a night may result in poor quality of sleep, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep.
20 Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep
- Set a sleep schedule – and stick with it
- Keep a sleep diary
- Stop smoking
- Review your medications
- Exercise, but not within 4 hours of bedtime
- Cut caffeine after 2 pm
- Write down your woes
- Take time to wind down
- Sip milk, not a martini
- Snack on cheese and crackers
- Listen to a bedtime story
- Stay cool…
- …especially if you’re menopausal
- Spray a sleep-inducing scent
- Turn on white noise
- Eliminate sneaky light sources
- Consider kicking out furry bedmates
- Check your pillow position
- Breathe – deeply
- Stay put if you wake up