Getting a good night’s sleep between the recommended seven to nine hours is not only a great way to reduce stress, improve your mood and the risk of serious health problems like diabetes and heart disease, it will also help give your lymphatic system the chance to properly do its job.

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The link between lymphatic health and sleep

It is well known that the quality of your sleep is linked to the state of your overall health, but the connection between lymphatic health and sleep is often overlooked. Poor sleep quality is linked to greater levels of inflammation, stress and an overall breakdown of the body’s immune system. Lack of sleep also has a significant impact on your lymphatic health too.

According to a report in MEDtube Science our lymphatic system is highly active at night while we sleep, with healthy immune function also going hand in hand with the quality of our sleep. This is because sleep regulates many immune system processes, including that of the lymphatic system. Believe it or not gravity naturally disrupts lymphatic drainage so the simple act of lying down can help improve how well your body drains lymphatic fluid. The next time you’re challenged on getting horizontal on the sofa or bed you can argue you’re just taking time out to recharge your lymphatic system!

How a healthy lymphatic system supports better sleep

The lymphatic system is vast. Made up of a complex filtration network of vessels, lymph nodes and organs including the spleen, appendix, tonsils and thymus, these elements work together to filter and remove excess fluid, together with anything identified as potentially harmful, such as dead cells, pathogens and a raft of other toxins ingested as part of day-to-day living in the modern world.

Illness, stress, poor diet or even a lack of sleep can result in an increase in stagnant lymphatic fluid building up and clogging our systems.  This in turn can lead to a number of health and aesthetic concerns including compromised immune function, poor or disturbed sleep, fatigue, headaches, acne breakouts, bloating and water retention, poor skin tone, cellulite and even weight gain.

 Potential signs of poor lymphatic health

The tell-tale signs of a compromised lymphatic system include greater susceptibility to illness, bloating and water retention and fatigue.

Pressure, stiffness or pain building up in your shoulder and neck area can also be a signal of lymphatic congestion. As the thoracic ducts swell during sleep, they can push on the nerves that go down the arms. This can cause one or both hands or arms to fall asleep or tingle while you are sleeping. The pressure may also build up on one or both sides of your shoulders, often resulting in a stiff neck.

As your body tries to look for alternative ways to get rid of waste from a clogged lymphatic system you may also experience acne or skin breakouts on your shoulders, chest, or face. Another sign is extra mucous, which you will typically cough up in the morning.

Top tips on how to improve lymphatic health and promote better sleep

1. Get in your eight hours of 40 winks

Getting a good night’s sleep between the recommended seven to nine hours is not only a great way to reduce stress, improve your mood and the risk of serious health problems like diabetes and heart disease, it will also help give your lymphatic system the chance to properly do its job. If you struggle to get to sleep at night, consider switching electronic devices off at least half an hour before bedtime to avoid overstimulation and pick up a book to read instead.

2. Sleep on your left hand side

In holistic medicine the left side of the body is the dominant lypmphatic side so sleeping in this position allows your body to naturally take pressure off lymph drainage from the heart and spleen. This is absolutely essential for encouraging the natural flow of lymph fluid and preventing lymphatic congestion, whilst also reducing snoring and improving your sleeping posture.  If you find sleeping on your side uncomfortable, consider investing in a foam memory topper or pillow top mattress.

3. Reduce pre-bed time stress by practicing mindfulness and relaxation exercises.

Constant stress can take a huge toll on the body’s overall health and lymphatic system. Relaxation techniques, such as gentle stretching and yoga, are great for helping to combat stress and promoting restful sleep.

Alternatively, why not consider a few minutes of breathing exercises before bedtime instead?  You can find a number of simple breathing exercise videos for better sleep on YouTube, and most smart watches are loaded with five-minute breathing exercises which can really help you to relax and unwind before bed.

4. Load up on supplements

Regularly taking supplements can not only improve your overall health, they can also help to promote better lymphatic health and sleep too.  Look out for Manjistha supplements – a herb used in Ayurvedic medicine primarily for its ability to decongest lymph. It does this by detoxifying the tissue and supporting lymph flow, ultimately leading to improved immune function.

Supplements including magnesium are also great for encouraging relaxation and aiding better sleep, as the mineral plays a significant role in muscle relaxation and nerve function. By helping to quiet the nervous system, magnesium may help prepare your body and mind for sleep. It also regulates the sleep hormone melatonin and helps the body maintain levels of GABA (or gamma-aminobutyric acid), a neurotransmitter that is responsible for “turning off” wakefulness.

5. Make lymphatic drainage massage into your weekly wellness routine

Manual lymphatic drainage massage is a specialised form of massage that has been proven to promote fluid movement in the lymphatic system promoting healing, pain reduction, and decreased swelling. Many people also find this gentle form of massage deeply relaxing, reporting a reduction in stress and improved sleep.

In addition to manual lymphatic drainage massage, compression therapy devices such as the Body Ballancer can be a great aid for improving sleep. Our relaxing, yet revitalising compression therapy device provides a fully automated massage that targets the body’s lymphatic system removing toxins and excess fluid and providing numerous benefits including:

  • Enhanced immune system function
  • Improved appearance of cellulite and skin tone
  • Slimming and contouring
  • Aiding detoxification and digestion
  • Stress reduction and improved sleep

Developing a routine that involves lymphatic drainage massage and relaxation is key to improving your lymphatic health and getting a good night’s sleep. Taking the time to incorporate these lifestyle changes into your everyday routine will help your lymphatic system function optimally, allow deeper and more restful sleep, and improve your overall health and wellbeing.