Experts reveal how lack of sleep and stress can affect your immune system – Share Sunshine Life

We all know the stomach in knots, the inability to sleep, the frustration, the excitement that accompanies a big work project or an upcoming life milestone – also known as stress. It’s a universal feeling, and unfortunately, all of us will suffer from it at some point. While stress may be unavoidable, it doesn’t have to be so for its effect on our bodies. The point is, bear with us as we return to the memory lane of science class when you feel stressed or sleep deprived, which can negatively impact your immune health, as it has been proven that lack of sleep, stress, and the immune system are all interconnected.

“Our health is actually made up of multiple systems that work together,” says Susan Mitmesser, PhD, Pharmavite’s vice president of science and technology. “This interconnectedness means they depend on each other, so when one system fails, it affects something else here, and vice versa.” She adds, “The inability to cope with stress disrupts our sleep, and without good sleep, the body has little time to restore itself and keep our immune system strong. When that happens, you start to see this cyclical pattern where you’re not sleeping well and therefore the body isn’t recovering.”

While stress is a normal psychological and physiological response to certain life situations, Dr. Mittmesser notes that we deal with two types of stress: acute stress and chronic stress. Acute stress is one of the least destructive types of stress. It also happens to be the most common and occurs many times throughout the day. It is experienced as an immediate perceived threat, whether physical, emotional or psychological.

“We sometimes think of stress as negative. However, acute stress can be motivating,” says Dr. Mittmesser. “If you’re under pressure or stress by a deadline, it can motivate you to be prepared.” Some of the symptoms you may see or experience with acute stress are a racing heart, sweating, muscle tension, and the ability to react without thinking.

Chronic stress, on the other hand, is your body’s response to everyday events, such as paying bills, work responsibilities and family obligations, that pile up and you don’t manage them to the point of releasing the stress. “Common signs of chronic stress include persistent headaches, irritability, inability to concentrate and poor sleep habits. Over time, chronic stress can lead to more serious problems,” says Dr. Mitmesser.

To make sure your body (and mind) stays healthy, it’s important to remember that sleep and stress are immune to your effects. Because as Dr. Mitmesser says, “When one is disrupted, it can have a cascading effect on your overall health.” There’s a reason so many doctors say “take a break” when you’re sick. “Sleep is a time for our bodies to repair,” says Dr. Mittmesser.

Chronic sleep deprivation can weaken your immune system and limit your ability to perform at your maximum potential. Cytokines, which are proteins that target infection and inflammation, are produced and released during sleep. Without adequate sleep, your body will produce fewer cytokines, which affects the effectiveness of your immune system. In addition to your immune system, sleep is the time when your body repairs and rejuvenates itself. If you don’t get the proper amount of sleep, your body will not be at its best.

We often think of the immune system as being seasonal, but like any good operating system, the immune system is constantly running in the background,” says Dr. Mitmesser. “You want to make sure the foundation of your immune system is really strong so that it can use your body’s cells, proteins and chemicals to promote daily balance.”

For people looking to maintain the delicate balance between sleep, stress and immune health, Nature Made recently launched Co-Mix, its new line of scientifically curated solutions for specific sleep, stress and immune health needs.Dr. Mitmesser uses Back to Sleep to help illustrate what these select solutions offer.

“Our Next Sleep product is low-dose melatonin, but also contains L-theanine, an amino acid that acts on alpha brain waves and relaxes you,” said Dr. Mitmesser. “It also contains GABA, which is an amino acid that occurs naturally in the brain. It’s a major inhibitor of neurotransmitters, which means it inhibits the neurotransmitter response and calms your mind.” She adds, “If I’m someone who has trouble falling asleep, this is a great product because if I wake up at 2 a.m., the low dose of melatonin helps me fall back asleep quickly and wake up refreshed, while the other ingredients help support a relaxed mental state.”

As someone who has personal experience with difficulty falling and staying asleep, I now claim Wellblends as my go-to source of sleep support. But while having this product line is very helpful in maintaining overall health, it is also important to focus on your daily lifestyle. Everyone is different, so what may work for someone may not work for you, but it’s important to ask yourself these introspective questions first and look at them from a holistic perspective.

“It’s not just about our diet or exercise,” says Dr. Mittmesser. “It’s looking at all of those things holistically, because if one of them is out of balance, it’s likely to affect another aspect of your life. If stress is your primary concern, it will likely affect your immune system and your ability to get quality sleep. Make sure you understand the interconnectedness of your health and your body so it doesn’t disrupt the rest of your health cycle.”

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