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You know that not getting enough sleep makes you tired and less alert, but feeling groggy is just a symptom of what’s really going on. Sleep deprivation can take a serious toll on your overall health and can even make you more susceptible to infections, like the common cold. Not only that but not getting enough sleep can also dramatically slow your body’s recovery time in the event you do get sick. We’re going to explore what’s happening in your body when you’re sleep deprived and how to make sure you’re getting enough sleep to stay healthy.

One of the most important things your body does while you’re sleeping is regulating your immune system. Your immune system plays an important role in both preventing and combatting infections. It does this in part by releasing proteins called cytokines while you’re asleep. These protective cytokines help promote sleep, but also help to build and maintain a healthy immune system. The less you sleep, the less opportunity your body has to produce and release these helpful proteins, which can make your body more susceptible to illnesses. In addition, the production of infection-fighting antibodies decreases when your body isn’t resting enough. All of these factors can contribute to a weaker immune system and increase your risk of getting the common cold or any other virus.

To ensure you’re getting a good night’s sleep regularly, try establishing a daily, calming routine before bed. Listen to soft music or take a warm shower to help you relax and unwind. If you find yourself tossing and turning or wake up and have trouble getting back to sleep, get out of your bed and move to a different room until you’re tired. It’s important not to associate your bed or bedroom with wakefulness.

There are a number of different factors that could be contributing to your sleep deprivation. Among those, most common is stress, sleep apnea, or insomnia. While stress may be treated with lifestyle adjustments, insomnia and sleep apnea require professional treatment. The long-term effects of leaving sleep disorders untreated could be a stroke, diabetes, excessive weight gain, and more. If you think a sleep disorder is what’s keeping you up at night, make an appointment to see Dr. Pasha and discuss your options. If you’re not sure how bad your sleep deprivation is, try taking the Epworth Sleep Test to give you a better look at where you stand. Let us help you get back to feeling rested and healthy with a good night’s sleep!