Why sleep is important for the immune system
Getting adequate sleep is important for well-being and health in many ways. A major international, interdisciplinary workshop sponsored by the National Institutes of Health highlighted the importance of sleep for regulating the immune system.
A summary of the workshop was published in JCI Insight. (1)
The consequences of sleep deprivation
Lack of sleep has been associated with an increased vulnerability to infection, reduced antibody titers (a measurement of the level of anti-bodies in the blood) after vaccination, and reduced lifespan.
Sleep deprivation has been shown to reduce the efficacy of the flu vaccine. And animal studies have demonstrated that sleep is connected to the body’s ability to resist infection.
Studies have revealed that sleep deprivation impairs the function of natural killer cells (part of the innate immune system).
Lack of sleep also disrupts the circadian rhythm, which causes inflammation and functional immunocompromise, making organisms more vulnerable to disease.
The authors concluded that (editor’s note):
“While connections to adaptive immunity and neuroinflammatory reflexes represent some highly opportune areas for study in the present, there are many areas of disease physiology for which the insights of circadian and sleep biology have yet to be considered."
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