The Sleep Series: How Sleep Can Help Our Immune System
At Aromatherapy Associates, we understand the importance of a restorative night’s sleep for our wellbeing.
Sleep is such a key pillar in our health, that it formed our very first Aromatherapy Associates sleep oil blend, born 35 years ago in our founder Geraldine Howard’s own kitchen: Deep Relax. Geraldine specially created this essential oil blend for an unparalleled sleep experience, using a unique and therapeutic palette of essential oils to deeply relax our mind and body.
Allowing our body to rest has the power to stabilise our mood, energise us and fuel our resilience.
During these challenging times, it is more important than ever we do everything we can to keep our bodies has healthy as possible — and the best place to start is our sleep.
How Can Sleep Support a Healthy Immune System?
Sleep is essential for the optimal functioning of our immune system, giving your body the time to rest, recuperate, and repair itself.
“Contrary to popular belief, our brain and body don’t shut down during sleep; they both work hard during the night, performing important tasks that recuperate and restore our physical and mental functioning, and producing cells that respond to viral threats. It is these very cells that play a critical role in our body’s immune response”Dr Neil Stanley, Chairman of the British Sleep Society and a sleep expert for over 38 years
Getting sufficient hours of high-quality sleep enables a well-balanced immune defence, helping us come back stronger with whatever our days have in store.
Sleep Rituals to Strengthen Immunity
Sleep is just like anything else in the body – it is a natural state and has to be prioritised and taken care of to function well.
Making sure your body has a chance to rest and recover from the day is important for your immune system to function at full strength.
“To ensure you fall asleep with ease and wake up feeling rejuvenated, there are three vital things to consider”, Dr Neil Stanley recommends.
A Quiet Mind
An important thing for getting to sleep is to go to bed when you are sleepy, as opposed to forcing it. Feeling tired is the result of 1) being the right time for you to sleep, according to your internal circadian clock and 2) how long you have been awake.
What is our ‘circadian rhythm’?
Circadian rhythms are 24-hour cycles that are part of the body’s internal clock, running in the background to carry out essential functions and processes. One of the most important and well-known circadian rhythms is the sleep-wake cycle. Your circadian rhythm helps control your daily schedule for sleep and wakefulness.
A quiet mind is not always possible when you carry your stress and anxiety into your bed. Using a room fragrance oil or stress relief candles can put you into a relaxed mood and create a calming environment that will remedy your restless mind.
Try our soothing essential oil blend Relax Room Fragrance to ease your mind and spirit by transforming your bedroom into your very own sanctuary of rest and relaxation.
In order to achieve a quiet mind and a relaxed body, it is helpful to establish a regular, relaxing, bedtime routine. You need to put the cares and worries of the day to bed a long before you get into bed.
A bedtime routine signals to the body that it is time for sleep. You should endeavour to spend at least 30 minutes winding down before bed.
For the best chance to sleep well, you should follow an aromatherapy ritual with essential oils to aid sleep and relax both the body and mind. Our work with Dr Tara Swart, a doctor of neuroscience and Senior Lecturer at MIT, suggests that adopting an aromatherapy ritual will rewire the brain to associate that time, smell and practice with a specific feeling.
Start with clearing your thoughts and let the body rest, soaking in a warm bath. Slow down by pouring one capful of Deep Relax Bath & Shower Oil into hands to warm the oil. Slowly breathe in the therapeutic aromas & massage onto torso before stepping into the bath. Follow with our rich Nourishing Body Treatment and finish your ritual by spraying our Sleep Mist onto pillows & pyjamas before tucking in for an undisturbed night full of calming aromatherapy scents.
One of the other, most powerful changes you can make to your sleep is to have a fixed wake-up time each day. As mentioned above, the body and brain start to prepare to wake up approx. 90 minutes before you physically wake. The body and brain crave rhythm, so if you get into the habit of waking up at the same time each day, this means that you are far more likely to wake feeling good because the body and brain know when to be ready to start the day. Living as far as possible in harmony with your body clock will ensure good health and good sleep.
In our Sleep Series, we will continue to share expert tips on what you can do to maintain your circadian rhythms to support your wellbeing.