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Q&A: Sleep and Your Immune System

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Q: How important is sleep to the immune system? I heard a Navajo medicine woman say that sleep was the key to a good immune system–more important even than nutrition. Is this true in your opinion?

A: The opinion of this Jewish medicine man is that it’s not an either/or situation: both sleep and nutrition are essential for a healthy immune system.

During sleep, your body restores itself. Every physiological function–breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, and thousands of others–slows down. This much-needed rest period is necessary to maintain healthy function.

It’s no coincidence that when we’re ill we just want to pull the covers up over our heads. We heal during sleep. Without adequate sleep, your body is stressed, and under stress your immune system functions poorly and you’re susceptible to all the viruses and bacteria that cross your path.

Now let’s talk about nutrition. You need the vital components of nutrition–proteins, good fats, healthy carbs, vitamins, and minerals–for healthy growth and development of your various body parts. They are also needed for the billions of biochemical processes that keep you going, your incredibly complex immune system being one of these.

Do people who live on junk food get more infections, like colds and flu? You bet!

As poorly nourished people get older, chronic diseases crop up, and those with diabetes, clogged arteries, and inefficient livers become even more susceptible to infections. They often die of an infection and not their primary illness.

Sleep well, eat well…

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