Boost Your Immune System For Free With These 7 Tips For a Better Sleep
With everything going on this year and winter on its way, a big concern is how to keep our immune systems strong and healthy. Most often we look to things like eating a healthier diet, getting more exercise, protecting our families with the flu shot, and taking multivitamins to round out our nutritional intake.
Yet, we seem to gloss over one of most underrated immune boosters of all time: sleep. Despite its innumerable benefits and necessity for a long life, nearly 1 in 2 North Americans suffer from some sort of sleep disorder. Chronic low sleep has been attributed as a significant factor in the development of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
This booster is completely free, already built into your schedule, and requires almost no effort (in fact, the more effort you put to avoid it, the more likely you are to want it!). So, what are some ways we can consistently get more quality sleep?
Why Are We Getting Less and Less Sleep?
First, let’s look at some key factors in why we’re not getting enough quality sleep.
Factor #1: More Sedentary Time
We just don't move around as much as we used to. Spending hours sitting down and not expending energy means we need less and less sleep to recover. The problem with this is most of our body's detoxification and recovery happens during sleep, so we're missing out on key recovery times by impacting our sleep.
Factor #2: Chronic Stress
We've never been more stressed out as a society. According to the American Institute of Stress, About 33 percent of people report feeling extreme stress, 77 percent of people experience stress that affects their physical health, 73 percent of people have stress that impacts their mental health, and 48 percent of people have trouble sleeping because of stress
Factor #3: Technology
Improved access to the digital world means our brains are always on and we're exposed to more information than ever before. Excessive consumption of information means our brains don't get the opportunity to relax because there's always something fighting for brain space.
Want Better Sleep? Practice good sleep hygiene!
Now that we know some of the factors that are diminishing our sleep quality, let’s look at some small and easy lifestyle changes you can make to improve it. Here are some of our favourites:
- Be consistent. Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, including on the weekends.
- Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature.
- Avoid screen time at least an hour before bed, but if you have a poor BDNF gene, make it two hours instead!
- Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime.
- Engage in physical activity during the day - it will help you fall asleep more easily at night.
- Read a book - it reduces brain stimulation and prepares the brain for a rested state.
- Aim to sleep before midnight - Researchers have found that the most effective replenishment period for the body during sleep occurs in the last 90 minutes before midnight.
Do you have any tried and true tips for getting a good night’s sleep?