Don’t you wish you were one of the relatively few people who can get by on just a few hours of sleep without suffering any health consequences? Maybe you are one in a million … make that the less than one in 4 million who has a unique genetic mutation called NPSR1. This gene allows people to get far less than the recommended eight hours a night.
If you’re not a genetic anomaly, why is sleep so important? Why do the experts tell us we need to get at least 7 hours a night? We know that a good night’s sleep makes us feel rested in order to tackle work or studies. But beyond having the energy to work a full day, why does sleep matter so much?
Research shows that chronic sleep deprivation affects health in the following ways:
- Life Span – The less you sleep, the shorter your life will be.
- Weight Gain – People sleeping 4-5 hours a night eat 300 extra calories each day. This leads to weight gain of up to 15 pounds a year.
- Cognitive Function – Sleeping deeply cleanses the brain of toxins. Poor sleep quality increases the plaque build-up that contributes to Alzheimer’s Disease.
- Safety – Every 30 seconds, there is a car accident caused by a lack of sleep.
- Immunity – With poor sleep quality, you have less cancer-fighting cells, called “Natural Killer (NK) Cells.” Insufficient sleep is linked to breast cancer.
Of the above ways that poor sleep quality negatively impacts health, let’s focus on immunity, because 2020 is the year that immune support is on everybody’s mind….
How Sleep Affects The Immune System
If you’re chronically getting 6 or less hours of sleep—and don’t have the NPSR1 gene—you’re at greater risk for catching a cold. The common cold is, of course, one type of coronavirus. Although there’s a lack of evidence that poor sleep quality makes one more likely to develop severe Covid-19 symptoms, the association, based on other studies, is highly likely.
In a nutshell, here’s how sleep supports the immune system: When you’re sleeping, cytokines activate immune cells and direct them to the site of a pathogenic attack (an infection). Cytokines are the master communicators of the immune system. You know how after a poor night’s sleep, you can barely string a sentence together in the morning? Well that’s how your cytokines feel, too! In order to perform at their best, and recruit as many immune cells to fight a virus, or a fungal or bacterial infection, your cytokines depend on a good night’s sleep.
But chronic sleep deprivation hinders the communication and activity of cytokines. And as mentioned above, the activity level of your NK cells and infection-fighting antibodies will be less than optimal with poor sleep.
Consistent, high-quality deep sleep is arguably the best medicine for the immune system. Unfortunately, because of hectic lifestyles, many of us aren’t getting enough of this therapeutic immune support. In fact, it’s estimated that one out of three people aren’t getting enough sleep.
T Cells, B Cells And Sleep
Natural killer cells are a specific type of T-cell, which recognize virally-infected cells and attach a virus-killing protein). T-cells are produced in the thymus gland (that’s why they’re called T-cells). The thymus gland transforms white blood cells (lymphocytes) into T cells. As you can guess by now, here’s what poor sleep quality does to your thymus gland function…. Spoiler alert… it weakens it, duh! Think of your thymus gland as the master programmer of your immune system. Just like a webmaster programs a website, your thymus gland programs not only natural killer cells but also helper cells and memory cells.
An underactive thymus gland (besides poor sleep quality, the aging process lowers thymus function) also plays a key role in hormone balance.
Another key player in the body’s adaptive immune system, and a teammate of T cells, if you will, is B cells. Produced in the bone marrow (“B” for bone marrow), B cells make antibodies. Ever see the movie The Hurt Locker? Think of B cells as bomb diffusers. (A virus being the bomb.) In one study on mice, researchers discovered that after six hours of sleep deprivation, the mice had an abundance of B cells in the brain. Sounds like a good thing, right? After all, the more B cells, the more virus neutralizers? You may think that, however, when B cells migrate to the brain, it leads to both inflammation in the brain degeneration of the organ. (Not good.)
How Do Adaptogens Support Good Sleep Quality?
So unless you’re the genetic equivalent of a lottery winner and possess the NPSR1 gene, here’s how adaptogenic herbs support sleep. Adaptogens, of course, have received a ton of attention over the last several years for their ability to repair and balance the body, no matter what kind of stress or how much stress you’ve undergone over the years.
From an obvious standpoint, adaptogens may help you sleep better because of their beneficial effect on the stress hormone, cortisol. Adaptogens work by directly affecting the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA axis) in response to stimulation by external stress. By exerting an influence on the HPA axis, adaptogens promote homeostasis (balance). And when your body is better balanced, you’ll likely experience improved sleep quality.
Obviously, the science of the immune system and how adaptogens influence the HPA axis is far more complex than the simplistic explanations offered here.
If you want to learn all there is to know about adaptogens, read “Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief” by David Winston and Steven Maimes. We here at Sun Horse Energy consider the book our herbal Bible.
The Most Complex Adaptogenic Formulas For Sleep Support
With every batch of adaptogenic formulas we produce, you’re getting an incredible 13 adaptogens. These 13 herbs are what we call the Global Resonance Formulation (GRF). If you want to flow in harmony with life and feel balanced, this is what the GRF can do for you. Adaptogens work better as a team. There’s a synergistic effect. In other words, the sum of the GRF is greater than its individual parts.
Take the Sun Horse Energy challenge and see if you’re sleeping better. Simply take our introductory formula, Ultimate Energy for 30 Days. If you’re not sleeping better after a month, we’ll gladly give you a refund.
Better sleep = better immunity. Adaptogens = stress management = better sleep.
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