Could you use a little catnap right now?   Did you mean to get through more of your book last night before you dozed off?   Do you fall asleep on a plane almost before takeoff?  Do you like to sleep in on the weekends?   Do you need an alarm clock to get you up in the morning?  

If you answer ‘yes’ to these questions, like millions of Americans, you are probably not getting enough sleep. 

Like your brain and heart, your immune system relaxes, repairs and recharges while you sleep.  There’s a lot less required of your immune system while you sleep—you’re not eating, your breathing is generally not tense or restricted (unless, of course one has sleep apnea or other breathing disorders), you’re generally not in a state of defense or feeling threatened during sleep. 

So your immune system uses sleep as a time to relax, repair and recharge. The problem is that many of us don’t get the quantity or more importantly, the quality of sleep that allows a full recharge. 

What’s interesting is that when you need more sleep, your immune system produces chemicals like TNF-alpha and interleukins that make you feel more tired.  These are some of the same chemicals that are produced when you’re sick with the flu or some other infection. This is partly why you feel so exhausted if you’re suffering from the flu or other infection. Your immune system is encouraging you to get more sleep, so it can do its job. 

Insomnia for any reason triggers a response from the immune system.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re not sleeping because you’re worried, you’re in pain, or your bladder keeps waking you up or any other reason.  Any lack of quality sleep activates your immune system, which in turn, damages you by the wanton use of its weapons. 

The good news is that sleep is a learned behavior; and you can learn how to do it better.  In the book UltraLongevity you’ll find exercises and tips for helping you get the quality sleep you need every night. 

< STEP 2    STEP 4 >


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