Your guide to getting better sleep

Published August 10, 2022, 8:52 AM

by Cheshire Que

Here’s how to have quality snooze

Happy woman stretching in bed after waking up.

The threat of Covid-19 is nowhere near its end despite vaccinations and precautions. And now comes another threat in the form of monkeypox. Both infectious diseases can only be overcome by a strong immune system.

Unfortunately, there are various factors that weaken our body’s natural defenses, one of which is sleep. We think that we can eat well, exercise regularly, and diligently take all the supplements we can get hold of to boost our immunity but the truth is that inadequate sleep negatively impacts the immune system.

Sleep deprivation disrupts the immune system by decreasing the production of natural killer cells. These are white blood cells that kill enemy cells like viruses and cancer cells. The NK cells are our first line of defense against infection and cancer.

Remember that time you had to pull an all-nighter studying, working overtime, or just partying? You might have caught a cold or felt a bit under the weather after. That was your body telling you that you are sleep-deprived and your immune system is hollering for rest in order to produce white blood cells to ward off infection.

Sleep is critical for us to exist. Albeit knowing its importance and the many benefits that come with getting a good night’s sleep, a lot of people fail to get to dreamland.

Insomnia is common. Here are the usual causes.

  1. Excessive stress produces the stress hormone cortisol. This keeps you alert and awake.
  2. Lack of physical activity or tiredness. A sedentary or physically inactive lifestyle does not cause the body to burn enough energy in a day. Therefore, the brain does not receive the signal that the body is tired.
  3. Environment that is not conducive to sleeping—noise, bright light, gadgets and television, room temperature, uncomfortable clothing, and beddings.
  4. Medical conditions like urinary incontinence and sleep apnea.
  5. A diet high in caffeine, spicy food, fatty food, alcoholic drinks, and food that causes hyperacidity.

Before you pop those sleeping pills that may have adverse effects, why don’t you consider these tips on how to get quality sleep naturally?

Sun exposure. Get about 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure in the morning. Sunlight helps the body produce the hormone serotonin, which aids in the production of the sleep hormone melatonin during bedtime.

Sleep deprivation disrupts the immune system by decreasing the production of natural killer cells. These are white blood cells that kill enemy cells like viruses and cancer cells.

Walk for an hour a day or exercise regularly. Exercise helps the body produce serotonin, which regulates hormone and induces sleep. Physical activity burns calories and makes the body tired so the body will naturally feel sleepy at the end of the day.

Wear a sleep mask. Total darkness will help the body produce more sleep hormone melatonin. Unless you have blackout curtains, a sleep mask is one of the most effective and affordable non-pharmacological intervention to promote quality sleep.

Eat plant food that contains natural melatonin. Drink chrysanthemum and lavender tea. These yellow and purple flowers don’t just induce sleep but also have calming effects that come from their plant nutrients also known as phytochemicals. Have some passion fruit, which contains natural serotonin, a precursor for sleep hormone melatonin.

Take functional food. Hawthorn and American ginseng are botanicals that aid with sleep. Hawthorn is a shrub that also promotes good blood circulation. American ginseng is an herb that has adaptogenic properties. It helps decrease the production of stress hormones and induces sleep. When one is fatigued or lacking in energy during daytime, this variant of ginseng helps the body produce hormones to boost energy. Functional food is food that has benefits beyond basic nutrition.

It is recommended to consult a registered nutritionist dietitian practicing functional nutrition before you take any botanicals. If you still have trouble sleeping despite trying the abovementioned tips, consult a sleep doctor or specialist for proper assessment of any underlying medical conditions that may be preventing you from getting those much-needed quality snooze.