Sleep & Immunity

Looking for one more point to add to your list of reasons why you should get a better sleep? This might be it. 

Studies on the relationship between sleep and our immune systems have actually been going on for several years.  Although researchers have much more to learn, they have come to some definitive conclusions thus far.  They know that there is a complex relationship between our sleep-wake cycles and our immune systems.  Parts of our immune system help to control our sleep and the sleep we get directly impacts how well our immune system functions.

Numerous studies have reported the benefits of a good night’s sleep, and now researchers from Germany have found that sound sleep improves immune cells known as T cells. To break it down for you, T cells are a type of immune cell that fight against intracellular pathogens, for example virus-infected cells such as flu, HIV, herpes, and cancer cells. 

This particular study found a new mechanism through which sleep can assist the immune system, showing that stress hormones and pro-inflammatory molecules prostaglandins inhibit the stickiness of a class of adhesion molecules called integrins. Because the levels of adrenaline, noradrenaline, and prostaglandins are low during sleep time, the stickiness of the integrins is stronger. This stickiness is important because in order for T cells to kill virus-infected cells or cancer cells, they need to get in direct contact with them, and the integrin stickiness is known to promote this contact. In other words? Sleep is your immune system's time to shine - the better and more regular sleep you have, the better your body gets at fighting away the nasties.  

Adults need a minimum of seven hours sleep every night for improved health and well-being. Inside the body, chronically bad sleep can cause problems. Poor sleep can increase inflammation, blood pressure, insulin resistance, cortisol, weight gain, and cardiovascular disease, as well as decrease blood sugar regulation

Of course, there’s more to boosting your immunity and guarding against illness than getting ample sleep. It’s also important to practice smart stay-healthy strategies such as washing your hands with soap regularly, avoiding close contact with people who are obviously under the weather, and talking with your doctor about getting an annual flu shot.  And remember: Even if you do come down with a case of seasonal sniffles, you’ll be able to bounce back faster if your body is well rested! 

The bottom line? Researchers say getting good sleep can strengthen your immune system - that quality sleep can bolster the T cells in your body that fight off infection. There's so much going on in our worlds - but good sleep must be a priority. Honestly reflect on the amount of sleep you're getting - a lot of our sleep problems are voluntarily induced. Not sure how to help yourself? Our Sleep Kits are a great place to start for sleep help that's tailored especially to you. 

Tags: Science, Sleep