Fitness Tips: SLEEPING YOUR WAY TO A HEALTHIER YOU!

Canva - Pug Sleeping Beside Woman on Bed

Other than feeling lethargic and moody, it comes as no surprise that we aren’t our best versions of ourselves when we’re tired. Just like an uncharged phone, we can become sluggish, unresponsive and sometimes, we can mentally shut-off altogether. Beyond these physical limitations, researchers are also increasingly linking quality of sleep to maintaining both short and long term health, including stronger immune defence. This news comes as recent viral outbreaks begin to plague our lives (and news feeds), so we’ve set out to explore the importance of sleep and its effectiveness in keeping us sniffle-free!

How Sleep Helps Us Heal 

Every time we rest our heads, we enable our body to shift its internal focus to supporting healthy brain function and physical restoration. At night, our body creates and releases cytokines, a type of protein that targets infection, inflammation and trauma [1]. This is significant because, when we neglect our need for sleep, we deprive our body of the time it needs to build up its defences and pause the generation of any new blood cells that help maintain our cellular immunity [2].

In a study by Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, of 153 healthy men and women, researchers found that ‘participants with less than 7 hours of sleep were 2.94 times more likely to develop a cold than those with 8 hours or more of sleep’[3]. Sleep also helps the body trigger a hormone release that repairs skin tissue and muscle damage, so without it, we become physically weaker, further taking away our fighting-chance against viral infections like the flu. 

Optimal Sleeping Times

If we revert back to our phone analogy, we wouldn’t expect our phones to miraculously function without being charged, so we shouldn’t expect the same from our bodies. Sleep is vital to our wellbeing in every essence of the word, so we’ve listed age-relative optimal sleeping times below*:

*As advised by the SleepFoundation.org

For the one-third of our lives that we spend asleep, it’s important to always remember how productive our bodies are being. So, next time you consider pulling an all-nighter to complete that important work document, consider the risk on your immunity which may, in fact, result in more time away from work in the long run!

We must advise that this article is not linked to the current events of COVID-19, rather serves as a suggestive piece on the significance of resting the body during illness.

For government related advice on the evolving COVID-19 situation, please check out https://www.australia.gov.au/index

  1. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-sleep-affects-your-immunity
  2. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/sleep-deprivation-and-deficiency
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19139325
  4. https://www.insidescience.org/news/why-sleep-soothes-flu
  5. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/what-happens-when-you-sleep

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