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A good night’s sleep really can do you the world of good

good night’s sleep

When it comes to staying well during the sniffly season, we all know how important it is to top up on vitamin C, eat healthily and wash our hands to help prevent the spread of infection. You may also know that a healthy gut is important for a healthy immune system. But how do our sleeping habits affect our immune health?

Scientists are still trying to figure out the exact relationship between sleep and the immune system, but many agree that a lack of sleep can severely impair immunity and make you more vulnerable to infections like colds and flu.

In fact, sleep would appear to affect different parts of the immune system in different ways: some studies suggest that sleep helps our bodies create the immune cells we need to fight off pathogens[1], whilst others show that sleep helps to shift the balance of anti-inflammatory proteins so that we can respond better to bugs[2]. Either way, nearly all experts agree that our immune system is stronger following a good night’s sleep.

So how much is enough? Everyone is different but as a general rule of thumb adults should aim for at least 8 hours a night; teenagers need more, between 8 and 10 hours a night, and young children need more still, at least 10 hours a night.

If you need a hand nodding off try these 5 tips for getting a better night’s sleep:

1. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day will make the hours that you sleep more productive and will help you establish a sleep routine.

2. Avoid using tablets or phones in bed, as the blue light will stimulate the brain and keep you awake for longer. If you’re having trouble getting to sleep earlier, try slowly dimming the lights an hour before bedtime to simulate the setting sun. This will trigger the release of melatonin, the hormone associated with promoting sleep.

3. Broken sleep is poor-quality sleep and will not help the immune system. If you wake up during the night, make a note of the time. Waking up at 3am is very common and could be a sign your liver, which carries out many of its functions in the early hours of the morning, may be working too hard to process fatty foods and refined sugars, alcohol or stimulants. If you’re eating and drinking too much of the wrong stuff, adjust your diet accordingly.

4. A natural sleep remedy can also help. A.Vogel’s Sleep Well Dissolvable Granules (£15.99, revital.co.uk)contain extracts of Lettuce, Lemon Balm, Magnesium and L-Tryptophan, featuring plant-based ingredients that work to promote a calm, restful sleep. It’s non-addictive and fast-acting, and these ingredients won’t leave you feeling groggy in the morning. Take 30-60 minutes before bedtime, under your tongue. Perfect for if you tend to wake during the night and have trouble getting back to sleep, as a dose of granules is super-easy to take!

5. If a blocked nose is keeping you awake, try to prop your head a little higher on your pillow, and use a nasal spray to loosen congestion. If you do fall ill with a cold or flu, the herb Echinacea can help to ease cold and flu symptoms for a better night’s sleep.

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