Sleep and the Immune System
We know that sleep is important but WHY is it important? Ask anyone and you will be surprise to find someone who has an answer aside from the blank statement of “you should not skip sleep”. So I decided to write this blog on this topic.
Sleep is important because of autophagy. Autophagy is a process of self-degradation of the cell, in other words, during sleep the cells in the body have an opportunity to “cleanse” themselves of the junk that has accumulated throughout the day. This is the equivalent of cleaning your fridge at the end of the week; you throw away foods that have been there for too long, you rearrange your containers, and you decide what needs to be eaten next. Autophagy is similar but in a more complicated way: the cells acquire new building blocks, recycle damaged proteins, and eliminate toxic proteins that cannot be restored.
Since all cells undergo autophagy, sleep becomes a time for regeneration and this implicates the cells of the immune system as well. Sleep affects the immune system directly. During the wake state, the body utilizes and exhausts its own resources (minerals, vitamins, cofactors) and becomes oxidized with the accumulation of free radicals. During the sleep state, the body replenishes and regenerates itself and restores its levels of antioxidants thus combating the oxidation created during the day. It is a give and take relationship. When the relationship shifts to just ‘taking’ due to poor sleep, the result is the accumulation of more free radicals, more oxidation and exhaustion of nutrients that are absolutely necessary to run the immune system and the body. When the immune system fails, chaos ensues.
If you struggle to sleep I encourage you to call Arizona Natural Medicine so we can help you restore your sleep.