How to Improve your Immune System
An easy way to help prevent yourself from getting sick is to do everything you can to ensure you have a strong immune system. Below we’ll give a quick summary of how the immune system works, and share a few tips for what you can do to improve it--most notably, sleep.
Immune System Overview & Why it’s Important to Have a Strong One
Your immune system is what defends your body against germs and infections to keep you from becoming ill. When foreign substances (known as antigens) attack, your immune system is activated.
White blood cells (also called leukocytes) are the most critical component of the immune system. It uses two main types of white blood cells to fend off antigens:
1. Phagocytes - These are cells that break down or “eat” invading cells.
2. Lymphocytes - These cells allow your body to remember antigens that have attacked previously and recognize them when they return in the future.
A strong immune system is essential for staying healthy. When it’s weakened, you become more susceptible to viruses, bacteria, parasites, toxins and more.
Strengthen Immune System with Sleep
Getting all the sleep you need is the one of the best things you can do to improve your immune system. When you are asleep, your body works to repair vital systems. If you don’t get enough sleep each night (in particular the restorative stages, deep sleep and REM sleep), your body will not properly recover and you are more likely to get sick.
Studies have shown that people who sleep 6 hours a night or less are significantly more likely to catch a common virus than those who sleep 7 hours or more. Other research has demonstrated that reduced energy demands during sleep allow your body to allocate more resources during that time towards the immune system. There’s also data indicating that T cells (lymphocytes that fight viruses) are more effective when you’re sleeping.
Additional Ways to Strengthen Immune System
Other things you can do to benefit your immune system beyond getting more sleep at night include:
- Don't consume alcohol
- Hydrate well
- Eat a healthy, whole-foods diet
- Increase your intake of zinc and Vitamins B6, C, and E
- Manage stress and anxiety
- Exercise regularly
- Nap during the day
- Wash your hands regularly
- Avoid contact with others who are sick
Track Sleep and Immune System Boosting Behaviors with WHOOP
A recent study from the University of Arizona proved that WHOOP is able to accurately measure sleep and identify the various stages of sleep. Additionally, the WHOOP Sleep Coach tells you exactly how much sleep you need each night, as well as the optimal times to go to bed and wake up to maintain a healthy circadian rhythm.
WHOOP members can also use the new Journal feature to track a wide and customizable list of potential immune-system-improving behaviors in order to understand what drives their green recoveries and better overall health.