Sleep Helps Us Stay Healthy & Strong

Chad Eiken 10/14/2020

As flu season approaches and in the midst of this pandemic, it is important to remember that sleep is essential to staying healthy. When we sleep, our body creates a defense against things that can make us sick (known as your immune system), and that defense stays with us all day long. If we do not get enough sleep, our defense weakens as we go about our day, and our potential for getting sick increases.

 

During sleep, our bodies produce a type of protein called cytokines. Cytokines are critical to the functioning of our immune system. Not only is sleep directly tied to their production, but it is also tied to the action of cytokines. When cytokines are released during sleep, they reduce inflammation while targeting infected cells to aid in the elimination of illness. This occurs primarily during non-REM stage 3 sleep in which growth hormones are also produced and released giving our bodies the perfect scenario for fighting illness and repairing damaged cells. Unfortunately, when we are sleep-deprived, our bodies may spend less time in non-REM stage 3 because they are making up for other stages of sleep first. This would result in less time being spent fighting illness.

Sleeping at least 7 hours gives our body a chance to fight any germs that enter our body. In fact, if we do not get enough sleep our immune system weakens, and we can get sick even more often than we normally would. Part of getting enough sleep also means that we go to sleep at the same time each night and wake up at the same time the next day. That way our body can strengthen our immune system at the same time each night, which gives us an even better chance of staying healthy.

Chad Eiken is a registered polysomnographic technologist with over ten years of experience in sleep medicine. He currently works as a Sleep Medicine Program Supervisor for the Veteran Affairs Medical Center and serves as the President of the Minnesota Sleep Society and a member of My Very Own Bed's Board of Directors.

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