Lack of Sleep – Impacts and Prevention
Insufficient sleep deteriorates the immune system leading to memory issues, impaired concentration and depression. Good sleep, regular exercise and appropriate diet help boost your immune health and reduce the risk of other illnesses.
Sleep has profound impact on health in general and the immune system in particular. It has been scientifically proven that sleep is essential to restore the key components of the immune system and functioning of other vital organs.
During the current stay at home to avoid contracting Covid-19, most people do not have an appropriate routine of work, exercise and sleep. It is advised to ensure enough sleep time to prevent the vast and varied repercussions surrounding the lack of sleep.
Impact of Lack of Sleep
- Strong immune system is essential to help fight against viruses and the flu. It is particularly significant in the contemporary situation involving fight against the coronavirus.
- Both memory and mood are negatively affected. Short term memory loss results from impaired concentration due to lack of sleep. Sleep helps the brain to strengthen synaptic connections that affect long term memory. Anger, depression and irritability also increase with continued lack of sleep.
- Insufficient sleep affects Insulin release and receptor sensitivity leading to higher/abnormal blood sugar levels which is a precursor to diabetes mellitus.
- Weight gain is one of the frequent outcomes of insufficient sleep. This hormonal regulation which occurs during sleep is disrupted. Stress hormones also known to decrease during sleep and thus lack of sleep can cause weight gain. Feeling of fatigue predisposes people to indulge in overeating and resistance to exercise.
- High blood pressure has been shown to correlate with lack of sleep due to disturbance in diurnal variation of hormonal secretion.
- Heart disease results as a combination of the impact of high blood pressure, inflammation-increase in the CRP, lack of exercise and weight gain.
- Balance and coordination are directly impacted as result of effects on the brain which is noted due to difficulty in concentration, fatigue and lack of exercise. This can result in accident, falls and injuries.
Do You Carry Any of these Symptoms?
During sleep, the immune system produces cytokines to help fight infection and inflammation. Lack of sleep produces less cytokines and therefore reduces the ability to fight infections such as viruses, like the flu and coronavirus.
The periods of sleep deprivation also cause reduction in Tcells which are vital to fight infections. Thus, lack of sleep has a major impact on our natural ability to respond to infections.
How to get good sleep?
- Stay on schedule for sleep. Practicing a scheduled bedtime routine allows fixed sleep cycles and an appropriate amount of necessary deep sleep.
- Avoid bright screen right before bedtime. The glare from smart gadgets causes exhaustion of eyes.
- Avoid exercise 2 hours before sleep. The cardiovascular workouts raise the heart rate which may result in disruption of sleep cycle.
- Avoid naps during daytime outside the routine sleep hours. Day naps cause difficulty in falling asleep during the routine hours.
- Stay away from bed while using laptop or watching TV. Use bed for sleeping only.
- There should be a gap of at least three hours between evening meal and bedtime. This gap is enough to allow digestion of food before sleep.
- Avoid caffeine, nicotine or alcohol before bedtime as it may cause disruption in sleep.
- Apart from the recommended amount of daily sleep hours, also ensure that the sleep is continuous with no interruption in-between.
How much sleep is needed to help your immune system? This mainly depends on age and other health factors. The school going age and teens need 10 hours on average to help their growing bodies, immune health and help brain growth/function. Adults need an average of 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep daily. Elderly with multiple health issues may require 9-10 hours.
Are You Unable to Sleep Well?
Good sleep, regular exercise and proper diet help boost your immune health and reduce the risk of other illnesses during this period of stress. We are available online to help with your specific sleep issues.