Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Immunity boost- a good night's sleep

Since I made my 'Winter Wellness Series' (see my Playlist on YouTube- have come across other factors that influence how well we stay this winter. Last week we talked about how a healthy gut can boost immunity, this week we look at how sleeping well can keep your immune system working efficiently.

Have you noticed that when you are short of sleep, you are more prone to colds and flu? This is a proven fact and indeed if you are short of sleep, you respond less well to the flu jab. This is because the immune system has circadian rhythms (changes that occur over a 24 hour period). Protective cytokines, proteins that regulate the immune system, promote sleep. If you are short of sleep their numbers are reduced, impairing the immune system. However, inflammatory cytokines increase if you are short of sleep which may worsen conditions such as asthma or in the long term may contribute to heart disease.  

T cells which deal with invaders in your body such as bacteria and viruses also increase in number at night.  

If you have trouble sleeping, yoga can help!
  • Yoga releases tension in your body which helps calm your mind.  
  • Yoga forward bends and inversions calm your mind and relieve stress.
  • Yoga triggers the relaxation response which means there is a switch from the sympathetic nervous system (which is the stimulating ‘flight or fight’ nervous system) to the quieter parasympathetic nervous system which reduces heart rate, blood pressure helping you 'wind down' for sleep.
  • Meditation quietens the mind. Often it is a busy mind that keeps us awake.  
If you struggle to get a good night's sleep, try the following sequence which releases tension in the shoulders and hips, and is meditative. Move slowly with the breath and repeat the sequence as many times as you wish to some meditative music.  

Start with your feet just wider than your hips, toes pointing out. Inhale, reach the arms out and up.

Exhale, arms out and down,bend the knees, bring the right hand to rest in the left.


Inhale, straighten the legs, bring the hands up to your heart.


Exhale, turn the palms over, bend your knees and press your hands down.


Inhale, straighten your legs, take your arms out and up.


Exhale, return to the start position


Still not sleepy?  Try a 'Yoga Nidra' - please see my YouTube video-
You may also be interested in my You Tube video 'How yoga boosts health - better sleep'- 
and 'Love your sleep' on the wellness blog for tips on getting a better night's sleep-

Sleep well.

Janet x

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