Dr. Nicola Finley (Internist)
Skin Health and Boosting Your Immunity – Why Focus on Sleep
You can boost your immunity through lifestyle approaches, and this also impacts your skin health. A few examples of these lifestyle interventions include getting good quality sleep, reducing stress, following a healthy nutrition plan, and exercising. This article will focus on how sleep can strengthen your immune system.
Let’s first start with how your immune system works and its relationship to your skin. Your immune system helps your body defend off infection and harmful substances. There are two parts of your immune system – the innate immune response and adaptive immune response. The skin fights off infection through both the innate and adaptive immune responses. The innate immune response is activated quickly within a few hours, and it’s a non-specific response. Examples of this are the skin as a physical barrier, as well as immune cells within the skin, such as white blood cells like neutrophils. In contrast, the adaptive immune response takes days to respond, but it’s a specific, targeted response. Examples of this are the immune cells within the skin, such as lymphocytes like B cells and T cells. As you can see, your immune system is a complex network of cells that work together to defend off infection and harmful substances.
"Good quality sleep can boost your immunity, which thankfully, in turn, is highly beneficial to the health of your skin as well!"
Sleep is restorative, and it impacts your immune system. Poor sleep reduces your response to vaccines and increases your vulnerability to infections. Research also shows that people who sleep less than 6 hours per night have a decrease in the function of their immune cells, like T cells, and an increase in inflammatory proteins, the cytokine interleukin-6.
So, what can you do to boost your immune system in terms of sleep?
Strive to get 7-8 hours of sleep.
Develop a sleep ritual that involves relaxation before going to sleep.
If you have a sleep disorder like sleep apnea, seek treatment.
Good quality sleep can boost your immunity, which thankfully, in turn, is highly beneficial to the health of your skin as well!