Lack of Sleep Depresses the Immune System

It is the “cold and flu season”, the time of runny noses, coughs, sneezing and fevers. It is heart breaking to see our little ones so miserable.

As parents, our goal is to keep everyone healthy. It is important to follow the normal advice of  “good hand washing” and don’t forget to wash all the toys and items which make their way into your child’s mouth.

Getting enough sleep is vital in prevention of illness for your child and for yourself. Research shows that even a small amount of sleep deprivation depresses the immune system.

This means less ability to fight off the cold and flu germs when you and your child are exposed to them.

Desmond miserable

According to Diwakar Balachandran, MD, director of the Sleep Center at the University of TexasM.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, “A lot of studies show that sleep deprivation suppresses immune system function. The more all-nighters you pull, the more likely you are to decrease your body’s ability to respond to colds or bacterial infections.”

Sleep loss, which we experience as new parents, effects whether we come down with a cold or the flu. When we are exhausted, it is much easier to get sick.  In your role of being a parent, it is difficult to take time off to be ill because your child needs you to care for them. It becomes extremely important to keep yourself healthy and to keep your child healthy.

Sleep also makes a difference in how we recover from illness. “One of the things that happens when we sleep is that we can get a better fever response.” Balachandran says, “This is why fevers tend to rise at night. But if we are not sleeping, our fever reaction is not primed, so we may not be waging war on infection as best we can.

How much sleep do you need to stay healthy?

  • Adults need 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
  • Teenagers need 9-10 hours of sleep per night.
  • School-aged children need 10 or more hours of sleep per night.
  • 2-5 year olds need 10-13 hours of sleep
  • 0-2 year olds need 14-16 or 18 hours of sleep

Tips to Get Adequate Sleep:

1. Good sleep environment
The sleep environment should be dark and relaxing which is conducive to sleep. The room temperature should be 68-72 degrees.

2. Regular nap times for your child
Naps should be in sync with your child’s body. Your child’s body will have cycles of sleepiness and cycles of wakefulness. The naps should be at the time the child’s body desires sleep.

3. Consistent Bedtime Routine
Doing the same thing at the same time each day helps the body know it is time to sleep.

4. Teach your child the ability to get themselves to sleep
When your child awakens slightly during the night, they will be able to get themselves back into a deeper sleep.

5. Make sleep a priority
Provide the time and place for naps and a regular bed-time.

6. Get help from a “Sleep Consultant” to improve your sleep.   Teaching your child to sleep, overcoming ineffective sleep habits, and developing sound sleep patterns are not something that can be discovered by reading a web site. There are a lot of methods on the internet. What will work?  You may need someone to tailor a sleep plan for your family according to your needs.

If your child is sleeping well, you can too!

Contact me for help:

Arlene Fryling

Arlene is a registered nurse and certified sleep consultant for children 0-5 years. She has cared for premature, sick, and many healthy babies. For over 15 years she has taught expectant parents how to care for their newborns through classes teaching basic baby care, infant massage classes, and moderating support groups for new moms as they deal with parenting issues.

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Alix Kron
Alix Kron
4 months ago
We cannot say enough positive things about our experience working with Arlene!! We were desperate for sleep, going almost 5.5 months with frequent wake ups, nursing back to sleep, nonstop crying during the day, screaming in the car and becoming more and more hopeless as time went on without having success … Arlene changed all of that within no time. She listened to exactly what was going on for us, developed a sleep plan specific to our daughter’s needs/our goals and was so supportive and answered all of our questions along the way. It was very easy to follow the plan that she developed and it included naps and weaning off of night feedings. We saw a difference in our daughter almost immediately! Arlene has absolutely transformed our lives and given us the ability to enjoy each other and feel so much better getting the sleep we all want and NEED! Our daughter is now sleeping 11-12 hours per night, eating only once overnight as opposed to every 1-2 hours, is on a great nap schedule and is so much happier!!! It’s the best money we’ve spent.
Adrienne G.
Adrienne G.
2 years ago
We worked with Arlene to sleep train our 22 month old son who had been bed sharing and nursing to sleep. She helped us develop a sleep plan that was specific to our son's needs. It addressed both his nighttime sleep and his naps. It really took the guess work out of the endeavor, because as a parent, even if you read all the sleep books, there are many different opinions and it is hard to know what is right. Arlene was attentive, flexible and available to answer all of our questions and concerns. I would highly recommend working with her! Our son now sleeps 11-12 hours a night and put himself to sleep on his own. Sleep training him has been a game changer for me (I sleep now too!) and for him. He seems well rested and his development seems to be progressing faster now too. His language skills are flourishing since he is getting better rest.
Amanda C
Amanda C
4 years ago
We just wrapped up our second time working with Arlene, and had another great experience! Arlene helped us sleep train our first baby a few years ago when she was 4 months old at the time. She was a terrible sleeper, waking up once every hour and needing to be rocked to sleep for what felt like hours and hours each day. I was a stressed, exhausted, and worried first time mom, and I was drawn to Arlene’s calm and experienced approach. She gave us an option for a gentler strategy that worked for us at the time, and was detailed and responsive in her sleep plan and attentiveness. Our daughter just turned 2.5 years old and is still a great sleeper. So once our second baby turned 4 months recently, we did not hesitate to work with Arlene again. We now have two rockstar sleepers in our household, thanks to Arlene! It means the world to us that she was there to help guide us, instill confidence, and most importantly, help teach our children such a valuable skill they will undoubtedly benefit from for the rest of their lives.
Begoña Cirera
Begoña Cirera
2 years ago
Arlene helped me first with my first son who was 2.5 year old when I hired her. He slept with me during breastfeeding. He never wanted to sleep in his crib. I was due with my second, and I needed better rest, and had no clue how to get him to sleep away from my bed. I even had to sleep w him during naps, or he wouldn’t sleep. I had to walk him for hours to fall asleep every night. It was awful. Two weeks after Arlene helped us create a program for him, he was done!!! He was sleeping in his own room, all night (12+ hours) and he was SO HAPPY during the day. We learned so much, and all made so much sense. After trying methods and books, nothing worked. My son is almost 6, and he falls asleep at 7:30pm every evening, until 7:00am. As a parent, you know how precious those hours are. With my second one, I didn’t make the mistake of waiting until he was two to train him to sleep. By 3 months, we slowly started, with Arlene’s help. I never had to walk him or be there for him to fall asleep. He’s now 3, and he is a great sleeper, much better than his big brother ever was, still takes 90-min naps, and sleeps 11 hours a night. Every penny I spent to hire Arlene’s expertise is worth it. My only regret was not to look for her sooner. Lifesaver, 100%.
Abbey Stidam
Abbey Stidam
6 years ago
Arlene Fryling at Gentle Touch Sleep Time helped our son sleep, which helped us sleep! We were having trouble transitioning our son (4 months at the time) from his rock-n-play to the crib and our amazing sleeper since birth was all of a sudden not sleeping very much. Arlene talked with us about what was going on with his sleep and why the change in his sleep pattern. She answered all our questions and calmed our worries and frustrations. She came up with a sleep plan that worked for our family. She guided us every step of the way. He is now an amazing sleeper again! He is 18 months old and sleeps 12 hours at night and takes a 1 1/2 - 2 hour nap. He loves to sleep and never fights sleeping. I am so thankful we had Arlene Fryling help us and we were able to teach our son to sleep.