How quality sleep can boost your immune system

Ask the Expert

GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – As we are all trying to stay in good health, experts say getting good sleep is one of the few proven strategies to boost your immune system.

March is also National Sleep Awareness Month.

Good, undisturbed sleep is critical for your overall health, according to Bon Secours’ sleep lab clinical manager Kenderick Hooks.

“Good sleep is almost not moving, no snoring, no gasping, not waking up to go to the bathroom. A lot of people say, ‘Oh, I’m getting old, I have to get up. No, you probably have a sleep disorder,” he said. “You get increased pressure on your heart, your heart thinks its a fluid overload and it makes you go to the bathroom.”

As he explains, your body starts to release a hormone called melatonin when the sun sets, which makes you tired, so it’s important to set consistent bed times when melatonin levels are high.

“Thats when melatonin production is going high or being perceived by our eyes as the darkness, so we should turn lights down and our TVs off,” Hooks said.

According to the National Institute of Health, studies show that melatonin, which helps you sleep, can lead to an early immune response against stressors like viruses.

“Melatonin also is a powerful antioxidant that helps fight off free radicals [and] oxidization in the body, so you’re body doesn’t have to work hard when you’re sleeping,” he said.

Hooks said to make sure you are getting at least 7 hours of undisturbed sleep, you can exercise regularly, avoid alcohol before bedtime and set your thermostat at 68 degrees.

“Melatonin actually goes hand in hand with body temperature, so the cooler we are, the more melatonin we produce, which helps us go to sleep,” Hooks said.

Getting quality sleep is also good for your mental health, according to a 2018 sleep study by the Society of Neuroscience. It shows that sleep deprivation triggers a 30 percent increase in anxiety.

For ways to treat insomnia naturally, click here.

To submit a health topic for our series, click here.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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