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Stress, sleep and immunity: Tips for life improvement

Read how interval workouts, whole foods and eating healthy fat allow the body to burn more ketones for energy without feeling deprived.

Schools in Alabama will be permitted to teach yoga but only using the English names of the poses - Copyright AFP Jewel SAMAD
Schools in Alabama will be permitted to teach yoga but only using the English names of the poses - Copyright AFP Jewel SAMAD

There are many factors that can contribute to your high-stress levels, lack of sleep and getting sick. One of the downfalls of approaching these factors is to treat them as separate event (e.g. “if I feel less stressed, I might sleep better” or “if I sleep better, I will feel less stressed”).

However, Nora Tobin, a performance enhancement and executive coach, tells Digital Journal that all three are interconnected. That is, stress, sleep and immunity are linked and they must be considered holistically when considering one’s general wellbeing.

Tobin explains: “Stress, sleep and immunity are closely linked. When you miss out on sleep, you miss out on time for your body to recharge and prepare for the next day. In fact, sleep is quite vital for our cardiovascular and immune systems to function properly, as well as our ability to think clearly, learn and retain new information, and manage our emotions.”

By way of example, she adds: “If an individual continuously deprives themselves of getting enough sleep each night, they create more stress on their bodies physically and mentally, which in turn affects the immune system, and essentially creates a negative downward spiral.”

As to how optimizing stress, sleep and immunity improve an individual’s professional performance, Tobin offers the following advice: “Other than a strong work ethic and a high level of drive, your professional performance too, is connected to your overall health and wellbeing.”

As to what these habits are, she clarifies: “Practicing healthy habits such as getting consistent sleep and managing your stress, can help you stay healthy and maintain a strong immune system. When you get into a healthy, regular routine you will feel more productive and ready to produce high-quality results that you wish to see in your professional life.”

To aid Digital Journal readers, Tobin provides top 3 tips for optimizing stress, sleep and immunity. These are:

Stress Resilience #1

Result of Stress:  When the body is under chronic mental or physical stress, the production of cortisol becomes unbalanced. This leads to excessive fatigue, brain fog and the storage of fat in the abdominal region. In order to produce enough cortisol to keep going throughout the day, the body pulls from the thyroid (lowered metabolism).

Solution to Stress:  Guided breathing, vitamin D and adaptogenic herbs balance cortisol (stress hormone) as well as regulates the amygdala- part of your brain that controls anxiety. Try to incorporate one or all of the below on a daily basis. 1-minute Meditation:take an inhale for 3 counts, hold breath at the top for 3 and exhale for 3. Repeat for 1-minute.

Vitamin D:  Precursor to serotonin (feel good hormone) and strong immune defense for the body. Get outside for 10 minutes without sunglasses or try this quality source of Vitamin D daily

Herbs: Adaptogenic Herbs have been utilized in India for thousands of years and help support the body’s energy and naturally protect against cellular stress. The top-two herbs I utilize to lower stress and anxiety are Reishi and Ashwagandha. Mix into tea or water before bed. Additional support- quality CBD. I love the brand Windward for their clean sleep, stress and energy elixirs.

Sleep Enhancements #2

Result of Sleep: During sleep, cerebral spinal fluid runs through the brain to clear toxins and create new neural connections crucial for retaining information and slowing down aging. This process is called glymphatic drainage. The glymphatic system primarily works during sleep, so in order to successfully create new cerebral pathways and clear waste products, it is essential to get at least 6 hours of sleep.

Solution to Sleep: Legs up the wall, temperature changes and minerals help the body shift into a parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) and out of flight or fight mode.

Legs up the Wall: Lying for 5-10 minutes with legs up the wall will reset circadian rhythm and improve the body’s ability to drop into deep REM sleep (reparative/clears brain plaque). Simply lie with legs resting on the wall with feet above hips taking deep breaths.

Change Temperatures: Alternating between hot water and cold in the shower (20 seconds hot, 10 cold) for two minutes before bed will greatly improve the body’s natural ability to regulate its own production of melatonin.

Increase Minerals: Magnesium is easily depleted in a state of prolonged heightened stress. This mineral is a precursor to the neurotransmitter Gaba, which aids in the repair process during sleep. Gaba turns on Theta brain waves, facilitating deep levels of relaxation, healing and rejuvenation. In order to up the levels of magnesium before bed, try Calm. It also comes in travel-size packets.

Energy Improvements: Result of Low Energy: The body has two forms of energy burning- glucose and ketones. When the body is primarily burning glucose, it goes through rapid spikes in blood sugar, leading to cravings, energy crashes and weight gain. When the body is burning ketones, it’s receiving steady state energy while burning its own fat stores.

Solution to Sustained Energy: Interval workouts, whole foods and eating healthy fat allow the body to burn more ketones for energy without feeling deprived. This leads to rapid cellular turnover, efficient weight loss/management, and high energy levels all day long.

High Intensity Interval Training: Raises post workout oxygen consumption, elevating metabolism for 24 hours post workout. The form of training is suitable for all levels, takes less than 20 minutes and requires no equipment. This allows the body to burn fat much more efficiently and supply adequate energy to the brain. Alternate with days of low intensity training like yoga or walking. Workout & Yoga Videos.

Solution to immunity #3

Increase Anti Inflammatory Foods: Lowering inflammation in the body will optimize and help sustain energy throughout the day, help fight off pathogens and generate rapid cellular turnover. Pick any foods from the attached list to incorporate daily as well as spices and herbs (the more the better).

Incorporate the 8 Hour Eating Window: Shortening the time window of our meals increases autophagy and allows the body to burn ketones (fat stores) for fuel instead of glucose. Eating in this window a few days per week will rapidly increase cellular turnover, boost irisin and enhance cognitive function.

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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