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Does Sleep Improve Your Immunity?

A study published in 2020 in the International Journal of Behavioural Medicine found that sleep plays a role in improving the efficacy of vaccination. It was reported that people who slept for shorter durations had fewer production of antibodies after immunization with trivalent influenza vaccine. Interestingly, they also found that those individuals who slept for a shorter duration two days prior to receiving the vaccination also produced fewer antibodies in response to it.  The idea that sleep benefits your immune system is not new. Numerous studies have previously also shown the benefits of sleep in vaccination in various animal model systems, through the activation of various components of your immune system.

When you suffer from a bacterial illness, your demand for sleep increase. The fatigue and sleepiness that you face during the illness promote less activity and hence conserve your energy for a faster recovery. Sleep acts as a booster to your natural immunity. During the deep sleep phase of your sleep, the efficiency of the transfer of immunogenic information to T cells increases. During sleep, the number of immune cells, such as T cells and APCs that circulate in your blood get reduced and redistributed to the lymph nodes. At these lymph nodes, these cells get accumulated and concentrated and allow for a greater chance of encountering a foreign pathogen that could potentially cause a disease. Hormones such as growth hormone and prolactin are also released during sleep that creates a suitable environment for the presentation of antigens by APCs, thus boosting your natural immunity.

Studies have also shown that night shift workers have low immunity thus are more susceptible and prone to upper respiratory tract infections such as cold and flu caused by viruses. Some studies have found that sleep deprivation and short sleep duration also lead to low immunity and increase the risk of respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia. Such studies give us important insights into how our immune systems can get compromised and how we can be more susceptible to illnesses, in times such as the COVID-19 pandemic, where there has been a drastic change in work/school schedules and sleeping patterns among people. Sleep should not be compromised and those suffering from persistent sleep issues must seek professional help.

For more information on sleep and immunity, you can visit the Neurology and Sleep Centre, the 1st Sleep Medicine Institute in the country accredited by Indian Board of Sleep Medicine at L-23, Hauz Khas Enclave, New Delhi, Delhi-110016 (INDIA)

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