When it comes to family, looking after each other’s health is always at the top of our minds. If a loved one is sick, we all need to do our part to stop the spread of illness. However, it's important to keep our immune systems strong to prevent sickness in the first place. Proactive measures such as washing your hands, practicing good hygiene, and staying home when you're sick are important, but one of the easiest ways to naturally boost your immune system is to get a good night's rest! Getting the right amount of sleep is one of the best ways to help keep your entire family’s energy up and immune system healthy.
Why sleep is important to boost immune system
Sleep is made up of two cycles that repeat every 90 minutes or so. The REM cycle is a deep level of sleep that is associated with dreaming and memory function. It's also the cycle where your body does most of its repair and restoration work. If you have fewer REM cycles per night, your body can't fully recover from the previous day—and makes you more likely to get sick. Studies have shown that adults who get less than six hours of sleep per night are four times more likely to get a cold. Lack of sleep has similar effects on children's immune systems as well. Children who don't get enough sleep are also more likely to experience behavioral problems, obesity, and struggle academically.
Why not enough sleep weakens your immune system
During the restorative REM cycle, T Cells and cytokines are produced and released. These are the body's main infection and inflammation fighters. By not getting the recommended amount of sleep, your body doesn't get the opportunity to produce these chemicals, which leaves your immune system weak. There are other effects of lack of sleep like high blood pressure, insulin resistance, weight gain, and higher mortality rates as well.
Best sleep practices for healthy immune systems
1. Get the recommended amount of sleep
It's recommended that adults get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. Anything less than five hours will negatively affect your immune system. To boost kids immune support, there are different sleep guidelines based on a child's age. Toddlers and preschoolers should get 10-13 hours of sleep (though this may be broken up into short periods during the day and night). School-aged children between 6-13 should get 9-11 hours of sleep, and teenagers excel when they get between 8 and 10 hours of sleep each night.
2. Create a favorable sleep environment
In addition to getting the recommended amount of sleep, you need to make sure the quality of that sleep is good as well! That's why creating a favorable environment for sleep is so important. Be sure to follow a bedtime routine with your entire family and stick to it. Lighting plays a huge role in creating the right mood for sleep, as your body is designed to produce sleep-inducing hormones when it's dark outside. Don't use bright lights and limit screen time before bed. If you need a night light, make sure it's designed to help your children fall asleep and isn't too bright. Room temperature, outside sounds, and potential distractions also play a key role in making sure your room is set up for successful sleep.
3. Use natural sleep aids
Natural sleep aids can help boost you and your kids immune support. These include diffusing lavender essential oils, drinking sleepy-time teas, and using chamomile lotion. In addition, we offer a variety of sleep-aid products that help your entire family sleep and wake up better.
Can I sleep too much?
If your family is operating outside of your normal routine like when you are working from home or kids are out of school for extended periods of time, it's natural to be concerned about oversleeping. It's considered normal for healthy adults to get up to 10 hours of sleep a night. Children should follow the recommended sleep guidelines stated above. If you are consistently getting more than 11 hours of sleep that isn't related to sickness, jet lag, or exercise, it may be time to look into why. Several conditions can cause you to oversleep, including depression, sleep apnea, and hypothyroidism. Chronic oversleeping is more likely to cause diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
At emagine A, we want to help you and your family sleep better. For additional ways to stay healthy and illness-free, view our list of natural ways to boost your immune system. Visit our blog for more more of our family health tips!