Sleep is probably the most important determinant of your immune system. If you find yourself getting colds more frequently this year, it could be because you’re not getting the sleep you need, said Dr. Christian Raigosa, physician-in-charge at the Kaiser Permanente Santa Clarita medical offices.
Raigoza said that a healthy immune system requires good quality sleep.
“Often times, people make disruptions to their sleep hygiene and unknowingly make certain decisions that impact their sleep,” he said.
One essential example that may lead to heartburn, as well? Eating late at night.
“If you stay up late and you eat late, and then you lay down, all those stomach acids can move into your chest and make you feel uncomfortable,” he said. “And lead to a worse night’s sleep.”
The ideal situation for a healthy individual is to not have anything to eat within two to three hours of their bedtime.
Raigosa also suggests avoiding alcohol before you go to bed. Heavy nights of drinking are not advised, and if people do go out on the town, they are advised to stop drinking two to three hours before anticipating going to sleep, just like with food.
Another big way is to maintain coping strategies for stressors in life. Raigosa advises patients take up yoga, exercise and maintain proper breathing techniques to make sure stress doesn’t affect their bodies negatively.
In many cases, stress, anxiety and depression can affect mental states, which may ultimately more greatly affect one’s nervous system and sleep patterns.
“Stress is a part of everyone’s life,” he said. “Of course, it’s unrealistic to eliminate stress, but there are strategies you can employ to manage your stress. For me, it means exercising several times a week. For somebody else, it could be yoga or Pilates or painting or knitting something.”
Also, a diet high in rich foods can affect daytime waking hours in a way that makes one more drowsy during the day. Raigosa touts having a low carbohydrate diet with good amounts of healthy fats, like nuts, for those who want to have the best rest. If carbs are on the table, healthy individuals should shoot for fruits, oatmeal, organic brown rice, sweet potatoes and other foods high in fiber.
another sleep concern is that often someone will have undiagnosed sleep apnea, and needs to see a physician, Raigosa said.
“If you wake up several times in the night, you may have a condition which is not allowing you to obtain restful sleep,” he said. “When that situation arises, you need to see a medical professional.”Raigosa’s last tip is to always vaccinate for the flu and other opportunistic diseases that may be inflamed by an unhealthy immune system.
“And see your physician regularly to make sure you’re at your healthiest,” he said.