IMMUNITY SERIES #1: SLEEP

Clearly we are far from eradicating COVID 19 from our environment, but we do have the power to boost our own defenses.  As we learn how to increase our protection and tolerance to severe disease, we can diminish our fear of infection.   My intention is to spread vetted information on how we can best KISS. Keep Immune Systems Strong!  

Today’s post will delve into the Sleep point of the KISS star.. are you getting your zzz’s?

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE:

During sleep our bodies produce cytokines and T-cells.   Both of these play a vital role in immunity.   Cytokines create an immune response by targeting infection and inflammation, while T- cells kill virus infected cells via toxic mediators.   Studies have shown that lack of sleep (both quality and quantity) does indeed weaken our immune system.   Those who are skimping on zzz’s are more prone to get sick after being exposed to a virus.   Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night to ensure you support your body’s production of cytokines and immune cells.

SLEEP HYGIENE TIPS:

SLEEP: 

  1. Create a sleep ritual (a special set of little things) to do before bed to relax the body.  Here are a few ideas: stretching, meditation, breathing exercises or gratitude journaling.    
  1. Create an aesthetic environment that encourages sleep. Use serene and restful colors and eliminate clutter and distraction.  Scan your room for any lighting that might interfere with your body’s natural release of melatonin.  For instance, a light from a charger – keep all electronics out of your bedroom!
  1. Use your bed for sleep, reading and sex only (not for screen time ) 😌
  1. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.  Our physical bodies are designed to operate on routine! 
  1. Be mindful of your alcohol and caffeine consumption.   Avoid excess caffeine, and no caffeine after 1pm.   Aim to consume no more than 1(for females) or 2 (for males) alcoholic beverages per day.  Give yourself a break from alcohol at least 3 days per week!  While alcohol will help you fall asleep, too much will have you “ping” awake in the middle of the night.  This will drastically affect your quality of sleep. 
  1. Create total darkness and quiet. Consider using eyeshades and earplugs.  If your room has a lot of windows, blackout curtains are essential!
  1. Enjoy outdoor fresh air for at least 1 hour daily.  Sitting outside can reduce blood pressure, lower heart rate, and decrease cortisol levels. When we are outside our body slows down, helping us feel peaceful and calm.  
  1. Write it out!  We’ve all experienced those nights where the monkey mind won’t leave us alone as we desperately attempt to drift off to la la land.   Our minds are designed to create thoughts rather than hold them – be sure to write out all of your ‘to do’s’ for the next day so your mind can be clear and relaxed when you hit that pillow. This will allow your energy to go toward sleep! 

9.  Raising your core temperature before bed helps to induce sleep.  If you have access to a tub, consider taking a hot salt & soda aromatherapy bath before bed.  

DIRECTIONS: mix 1- 1.5C of Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) with 1- 1.5C baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to your bath.  Absorbing the magnesium through your skin and receiving the alkaline balancing effects of the baking soda will leave you in a relaxed state ready to fall asleep.  Add a few drops of eucalyptus or lavender oil to the tub for the ultimate unwind.  

Another popular option for warming your center is to use a hot water bottle which you can easily find online.   Personally, I find hot cold packs even more convenient than filling up a water bottle!  My go to, thermipaq, is affordable and high quality:   ThermiPaq Reusable Ice Pack and Hot Cold Pack

10. If you are really struggling to fall or stay asleep, there are many vetted supplements that will help you overcome your struggle.  

HERBS AND SUPPLEMENTS: 

  • Try 320 mg to 480 mg of valerian root extract standardized to 0.2 percent valerenic acid one hour before bed.  Herb pharm also makes an alcohol free version: alcohol free herb pharm valerian
  • Oral lavender tincture (be sure the bottle says safe for consumption, there are many lavender extracts that are made for diffusers only).
  • Take 200 mg to 400 mg of magnesium glycinate (citrate is for constipation, glycinate is what you want for sleep)  before bed. This relaxes the nervous system and muscles. I use pure’s brand – vetted and provides a 3 month supply. 1-3 of melatonin 1 hour before bed. 
  • GABA 

Note: When using supplements and herbs, it is important to change them up every month or so, this way your body will not become dependent on them. Also note that (with the exception of Magnesium) they are not intended for long term use.

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