Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the best ways to protect yourself against the flu this winter. Unfortunately, the struggle to get a good night’s sleep is an exhausting battle shared by many.
Sleep is the critical period when your body rests and rejuvenates. Studies indicate that when sleep patterns are interrupted, the levels of natural killer cells of a person’s immune system are significantly reduced. And natural killer cells are your immune system’s first line of defense against invading pathogens.
As a starting point for getting the restorative rest you need, follow these “good sleep tips” provided by the National Sleep Foundation:
- Maintain a standard, relaxing bedtime routine.
- Stick to regular sleep times.
- Keep bedrooms dark, cool, and quiet.
- Make sure pillows, mattresses, and bedding are comfortable.
- Exercise regularly, but stop at least three hours before bedtime.
- Avoid caffeinated beverages (and for adults, alcohol) at least eight hours before turning in.
- Keep work, computers, and TVs out of bedrooms.
I also suggest that you:
- Avoid less obvious sources of caffeine like chocolate, chocolate-flavored foods, soft drinks, and salt, which can act as a mild stimulant to the adrenal glands.
- Take a look at the medications you’re using. One of the biggest detriments to sleep is the widespread use of both over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Even seemingly harmless sinus and nasal congestion medications can be strong nervous system stimulants that can interfere with sleep.
Finally, instead of getting a prescription for a sleep aid from your doctor, first consider using natural sleep-promoting supplements, like melatonin, valerian, and chamomile.
Now it's your turn: How do you get a restful night's sleep?