Boost Your Immune System Naturally
Four steps to boost your immune system by prioritizing your sleep
Why Sleep Matters
A simple and effective way to boost your immune system naturally is to get plenty of sleep. With this new wave of Covid-19 keeping us inside in quarantine, it's a great time to practice getting more rest for your own immunity.
In this blog, I will give you four steps to improve your sleep routine that you can start to implement now while you're at home.
Sleep and immunity are closely tied. How many times have you pushed yourself to stay up late night after night and then got sick a few weeks later? That would be me in my 20’s! I was always on the go out with friends and not taking a full weekend to just rest, later catching a bug that made me actually rest and stay in. It took me a while to tie sleep with my own immunity, but what a difference it made!
Inadequate or poor-quality sleep is linked to a higher susceptibility to sickness. Getting adequate rest will strengthen your natural immunity.
You see, during deep sleep, your body works to repair muscles, organs, and other cells. Chemicals that strengthen your immune system start to circulate in your blood.
Also, you may have noticed that you sleep more when sick to allow your immune system to fight the illness better. It’s advised that adults should aim to get more than 7 hours of sleep each night regardless.
4 Steps to High-Quality Sleep
1.) Give yourself a curfew
If you’re watching a movie, out with friends (post quarantine), or working late and you know you have to be up early the next day, make sure you schedule your activities earlier than you planned.
Set a bedtime giving you 8 hours of sleep, and plan to start your sleep routine about 1 hour before going to bed. Starting your night earlier is a key step in sticking to your curfew especially if you're zooming (or socializing post quarantine) with some wonderful people and don’t want to turn in just yet. It’s easy to get wrapped up in conversation and fun so why not give yourself more time to enjoy and enough time to start your bedtime routine.
2.) Turn down the lights
I try to avoid keeping bright lights on past sunset because it helps me gain a more natural circadian rhythm and be ready for bed as daylight diminishes naturally.
It can also help if you are watching a movie or working on your devices to use blue-blocking glasses that help protect your eye from the light which stimulates you to stay awake late into the night.
Biologically speaking, the circadian rhythm is nearly 24 hours, and our bodies rely on the sun on to reset this cycle in sync with the length of days. As the day goes on the sunlight diminishes, and naturally, we get less blue light from the sun to keep us awake. It’s important to turn the lights in the house down as the sun starts to set. This will naturally help your body connect to nature's circadian rhythm and boost your immune system naturally.
3.) Take a warm bath or shower
Take a warm bath or shower followed by a warm (not hot) cup of Valerian Tea. Valerian root has been used since the second century to help people fall asleep faster, reduce symptoms of insomnia, and increase overall sleep quality.
Ending your day with a warm bath helps set your mind and body for bedtime. At night our body temperatures naturally drop, which signals the production of melatonin— otherwise known as the sleeping hormone.
Soaking in a warm bath will raise your body temperature, and exiting the warm environment will more rapidly cool it down, thus launching the production of melatonin and better preparing your body for sleep.
4.) Bedtime breathing
I love practicing four rounds of the 4-7-8 breathing exercise which is adopted from the yogic practice of pranayama meaning “regulation of breath.”
You can practice the technique while lying down comfortably or sitting while maintaining good posture. But since you’re specifically testing this out to fall asleep fast, try it lying down in bed.
From there, put the tip of your tongue where the ridge of the gum meets your upper front teeth before exhaling forcefully through your mouth to make a whooshing sound. Then, close your mouth and inhale through your nose for a count of four. Next, hold your breath to a count of seven, and then exhale through your mouth making the same whoosh sound for a count of eight. You can practice 3-4 rounds and then breathe normally.
Take this time while you're home to implement these steps to boost your immunity naturally. What you might realize with implementing these steps is that you are more mindful and aware of how your activities before bedtime are closely related to how well you sleep. Incorporating a more natural sleep rhythm into your week will help boost your immune system naturally.