Avoid that winter cold—get some ZZZs! According to a prominent 2011 scientific study: “Sleep and the circadian system exert a strong regulatory influence on immune functions.” (Nerds (I use that term affectionately) and those who want to read the study article can do so on the U.S. National Library of Medicine website.
To maximize the immune-boosting benefits of sleep, I recommend:
1. Get as much sleep as you can. Sleep is one of those areas where more truly is better. Seven hours is better than six, eight is better than seven, nine is better than eight. That said, don’t judge yourself and don’t compare yourself to others. Get as much sleep as you can realistically with the other things you choose to make part of your life.
2. Go to bed at the same time on most nights. Getting to bed consistently at the same time helps ensure you get as much sleep as you can and promotes good sleep quality.
3. To get more sleep, get to bed a bit earlier. For many people, sleeping in later in the morning is not an option. But many people can get to bed a bit earlier by simply turning the television off a little earlier.
4. Sleep in when you can. On days when you don’t need to get up early for work, sleep in. Yes, sleep in. If you feel guilty or anything like that, let it go. You don’t need it. Sleep is one of the keys to wellness. Enjoy it.
To foster high-quality sleep, I recommend:
1. Make sure your bedroom is very dark. The darker the better. Make sure there are no lights from any electronic devices. Your body perceives this light as daylight and this negatively affects the quality of your sleep.
2. Make sure your bedroom is very quiet. Complete silence or white noise from a fan, humidifier, or a similar device is best.
3. Make sure your bedroom is comfortable: not too hot and not too cold. If you’re too hot or too cold, you won’t sleep as well as you can. A bedroom at 60 to 65 degrees at night is best for most people.
4. Avoid eating within a few hours of bedtime. Give yourself some time to digest your dinner before you to go to sleep.
5. Avoid drinking excessive amounts of water in the few hours before bedtime. Drink water in the morning, and throughout the day between meals, but don’t drink water in the evening after dinner.
6. Ideally, spend the few hours before bedtime resting. This makes it easy to wind down, fall asleep quickly, and sleep deeply.
7. Reserve your bed for sleep and sex. If you associate your bed with things like paying bills and checking your e-mail, it can be tougher for you to wind down and fall asleep. Use your bed only for sleep and sex. When you get in bed, you’ll get a strong signal that it’s time to doze off.
8. Increase your exposure to light during the day. Keep the blinds open at work and at home to let lots of light in. Get outside during the day whenever possible.
Remember your mantra for today: NOURISHING MOVEMENT, NOURISHING FOOD, NOURISHING LIFE.