Sleep Disorders

30 June 2020

Advertorial: Sleep and the immune system

A lack of sleep drastically affects your overall quality of life, negatively impacting memory, mood, blood pressure and weight.

Sleep deprivation is a very real threat to the immune system, increasing the risk of various diseases. When you sleep your body goes into a restorative mode – this is when the body works to reset and make us stronger and healthier.

During sleep, the immune system produces chemicals known as cytokines which help fight bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other foreign pathogens in our body.

Sleep deprivation prevents our bodies from making these protective substances, leading to an increase in infections especially from colds and flu-related viruses. Without enough cytokines, we’re more prone to frequent, longer, and serious infections.

Chronic sleep deprivation also prevents our bodies from producing other important substances such as melatonin and glutathione which are both antioxidants that protect our bodies. “Unfortunately, most people don’t get enough quality sleep because of stress, difficulty falling into a deep sleep, depression, uncomfortable sleeping conditions, etc.,” explains Sealy South Africa brand executive, Riaan Strydom.

He refers to a 2012 World Health Organisation (WHO) study of eight African and Asian countries including South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Indonesia which concluded that sleep deprivation was an emerging endemic. According to the study, over 31% of South Africans reported poor quality of sleep and inability to fall asleep making South Africa a country with one of the highest rates of sleep difficulties.

Confirming this research, a 2017 Sealy Sleep Census revealed that only one in five South Africans get a full eight hours’ sleep each night and more than 30% of those interviewed took more than 30 minutes to fall asleep at night.

Quality over quantity

Now that winter has arrived, getting enough quality sleep becomes important for boosting our immunity and reducing our susceptibility to colds, flu, and related viruses.

However, Strydom points out that it’s not just about sleep but rather quality of sleep. “If you’re restless throughout the night, your body is not relaxed enough to go into that restorative phase necessary for building up your immunity. You have to not only sleep, but also have quality sleep.”

Good quality sleep means falling asleep within 30 minutes of hitting the bed, and not waking-up more than once per night. Most people unfortunately do not have good quality sleep for several reasons, including a sleep environment that is too hot or too cold, an uncomfortable bed, loud noise, and artificial light.

“The fact is, you might have the most peaceful bedroom ever, but if your mattress is old or not right for your needs, you will find your sleep is more disrupted than it should be,” says Strydom. “Make sure your mattress and pillow are correct for your sleeping position and offer the right amount of support.”

Sleep technology

The technology that goes into every Sealy mattress has one important purpose: To enable the best sleep quality. Years of research and development go into each design, which is based on the foundational principles of orthopaedic support.

This means a Sealy mattress provides spinal support, which allows your muscles to relax, and also offers targeted pressure relief so that you don’t toss and turn during the night in an effort to get comfortable.

“If you think your mattress might be interfering with your quality of sleep, spend some time getting to know the latest Sealy ranges,” advises Strydom. “Our sleep research and sleep tech development is constantly evolving so if you haven’t bought a bed in the past 10 years, you’re missing out on our latest innovations and the chances are you’re also missing out on a mattress that offers next-level comfort.“

With good quality sleep, you stand a better chance of getting your immune system in top shape to weather the upcoming cold and flu months,” he concludes.

To learn more about the latest Sealy ranges and how Sealy provides a selection of comforts and support for an unbeatable healthy sleep experience, visit Sealy



Ask the Expert

Sleep disorders expert

Dr Alison Bentley is a general practitioner who has consulted in sleep medicine and sleep disorders, in both adults and children of all ages, for almost 30 years. She also researches and publishes on a number of sleep-related topics both in formal research journals and lay publications including as editor of Sleep Matters, an educational newsletter on sleep disorders for doctors.

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