Healthy sleeping habits to boost your immune system

Not getting enough sleep can severely damage your immune system.

If you are often finding yourself tossing and turning at night, you might not only be hurting your chances at a perky morning, but you could be damaging your immune system as well. Researchers from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health have analyzed how consistent sleep deprivation can negatively impact your immune system, leaving you more susceptible to illness.

The researchers took a group of healthy men and assigned them to 4 to 5 hours of sleep every night before having to fulfill a typical workday. They discovered that the men who had at least three hours less than the normal eight hours of sleep at night had weakened white blood cells as well as significant changes in gene levels – two sure signs of a frail immune system. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are an estimated 50 to 70 million American adults who have some variation of a sleeping disorder. If you are struggling with obtaining the recommended eight hours of sleep every night, here are a few tips to help you get the slumber you need to be active and productive throughout the entire day. 

Establish a routine bedtime
Getting your body to adhere to a strict time schedule is essential for receiving a good night's rest. If you find yourself tuning out at 10 p.m. one night then staying up until 2 a.m. the next, your body's internal clock will be confused. Once you have established your preferred time to fall asleep, try to stick to that time even on the weekends, which is often when sleeping routines are thrown out of sync. The same can be said for waking up in the morning as well.

Know what you are putting into your body
Guess what? If you are smoking cigarettes, eating ice cream or drinking nightly cocktails before bedtime, the odds are your sleep will suffer from it. Stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine usually take hours to wear off, which will keep your brain wired and mind wandering while you are trying to get some shut-eye. Avoid these late-night temptations as much as possible.

Avoid lights at all cost
Many people resort to watching television, scanning computer screens or flipping through their electronic music players before falling asleep. All these lights right before rest can reduce your body's production of melatonin, the naturally produced hormone that helps you sleep efficiently and is regulated by light exposure. Try not to watch television or read from electronic devices before sleep to ensure proper melatonin regulation in your body.

Limit your naps
If you are someone who frequently needs a cat nap during the day to get by, you aren't doing your body any favors by catching up on lost sleep at night. Any naps that last for more than 30 minutes can affect your body's sleep cycle, and the best time for naps is during the early afternoon. Before napping, try to make sure your blinds or shades are closed so sunlight can not readjust your internal clock.

Get your stress out
The more your mind is at ease, the better your body will sleep. Simply making sure you are organized and know what you need to do for tomorrow is one of the more efficient methods of getting a healthier eight hours of sleep.

Exercise!
As if you needed another reason to work out during the day, routine physical activity is one of the best ways you will enjoy a deep and peaceful sleep at night. Don't exercise too closely to your bedtime though. Get a solid 30 minutes of a workout right around dinner time for the best sleeping results.

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