You may remember a parent saying you need sleep to stay healthy when you were a kid. You may have thought it was a conspiracy to get you to go to bed. It probably was, but it’s also true! Sleep is essential to our immune system’s ability to fight disease.
According to Mayo Clinic experts, studies have shown that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus like COVID-19 or even the common cold virus. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.
You may still think it’s more conspiracy than fact, but there are Two measurable components of the immune system that are directly linked to sleep: Cytokines and T cell activation.
This gets a little technical, but I’ll break it down for you:
The National Sleep Foundation explains that cytokines are a type of protein that targets infection and inflammation. Cytokines are both produced and released during sleep. Sleep deprivation may decrease production of these protective cytokines.
A study from the University of Tübingen in Germany identified a specific mechanism with T cells that links to sleep. T cells play an important role in immunity because they identify and kill virally infected cells. To do this a T cell activates a “sticky” protein called integrin used to attach to an infected cell to kill it.
The study found that sleep increased the level of integrin activation in T cells compared to participants that were sleep deprived. During sleep there is lower adrenaline and proinflammatory hormones that disrupt the activation of integrin. Sleep increased the efficiency of T cells to fight infection.
Bottom line: Sleep improves immunity!
Now you’re a believer, so what do you do? First, get enough sleep. This means going to bed at a regular time that allows you get 8-10 hours. It also means minimizing food and beverage, especially caffeine, and stimulating or stressful activities before bed – known as good sleep hygiene.
Second, get good quality sleep. If you snore or have been told you stop breathing, you may have sleep apnea. If you have sleep apnea, you are not getting the deep, restorative sleep that is needed for the benefits to your immune system.
Get tested and treated now to fight disease. You can test in your own home where you’re most comfortable — instead of a sleep lab. You will have contact via phone or computer. We can set that up for you. Don’t make excuses when sleep is more important than ever!
Contact us at 877-933-9470. We’re available to answer your questions.