How Sleep boosts the Immune System

How Sleep boosts the Immune System

How often have you felt ill before going to bed only to be reassured by the words, “You’ll feel so much better after a good night’s sleep?

  • Sleep Is Crucial for Overall Health: Quality sleep is essential for maintaining a healthy immune system, and research has shown that inadequate sleep can weaken the immune response, making individuals more susceptible to infections and chronic diseases.
  • Immune System Complexity: The immune system is a complex network of cells and molecules that defend the body against infections. It includes various components such as white blood cells, antibodies, and cytokines, all of which play specific roles in protecting against diseases.
  • Impact of Sleep on Vaccination & Infections: Sleep can significantly affect the body’s response to vaccinations and infections. Adequate sleep improves vaccination effectiveness, while sleep deprivation can increase the risk of getting sick and lead to more severe symptoms when infected.

Sleep research, particularly the effects of sleep deprivation on immunity, has advanced tremendously in the last several decades, exposing the critical necessity of healthy sleep for nearly every body system in healthy humans. As research into the relationships between sleep quality and physical health has progressed, it has become apparent that sleep and the immune system are inextricably linked.

The immune system is essential for good health. It is necessary for wound healing, infection prevention, and protection against chronic and life-threatening disorders.

Quality sleep and the immune system are mutually beneficial. An immune response, such as that triggered by infectious diseases, can affect sleep.

Proper sleep enhances the immune system, allowing for balanced and effective innate immunity. In contrast, not getting good sleep might disrupt the immune system. According to research sleep deprivation might make you unwell in the short and long term.

Circadian rhythms govern all animals’ sleeping and eating patterns, including humans. The term “circadian rhythm” is derived from the Latin words “circa,” which means “day,” and “Diem,” which means “around.” The circadian rhythm controls the sleep-wake cycle, a natural mechanism. Complex connections between the central nervous, endocrine, and immune systems govern the sleep-wake cycle and sleep deprivation.

“The relationship between sleep and immune function cannot be considered in isolation from circadian rhythmicity,” says Dr. Nayantara Santhi. “This is because sleep itself is a circadian behavior and furthermore, circadian rhythms influence all aspects of physiology including immune function. As a consequence, booth, circadian and sleep disruption can lead to a state of inflammation and impaired immune response leaving us more vulnerable to disease.”

During deep sleep, your body produces cytokine as a cell response necessary for modulating an immune response. When you are assaulted by disease or under stress hormones release, your body requires more cytokines. Because cytokines rise during sleep, a lack of good sleep impairs the body’s capacity to fight infections. This is also why the body prefers to sleep more after an illness.

And persistent sleep deprivation may harm the immune system. In a study Ackermann et al. evaluated white blood cell and regulatory t-cell counts in 15 people in normal and severe sleep-deprived settings.

For the first week of the trial, 15 individuals adhered to a rigid 8-hour sleep period. During the research, they were subjected to 15 minutes of sunshine within 12 hours of waking up. They were instructed to abstain from coffee, alcohol, and medicine for the past three days to regulate their circadian rhythm and determine sleep’s role in t cells and white blood cell counts.

Participants were challenged to 29 hours of continuous sleep deprivation in the second half of the trial. After the study, the white blood cell counts of the subjects were compared. It was discovered that granulocytes, a white blood cell, reacted to sleep deprivation in a typical pattern of the body’s stress hormones, particularly at night.