Impact of Sleep on Immune Health

Our immune system acts as a defense against toxins and various infections that try to attack the body. It’s what keeps us from getting sick or developing ailments that can have a significant toll on our quality of life.

There are many different ways to ensure your immune system remains strong, but there are also lots of lifestyle choices that can have the opposite effect. In this article, we will provide a comprehensive review of the impact of sleep on immune health.

How Can Sleep Affect Our Immune Health?

It’s well known that a full night’s rest is important to maintain a healthy and functioning immune system. The defenses that the immune system provides are broken down into two different categories, which are innate and adaptive immunity. The adaptive category focuses on targeting particular threats and developing new defenses when encountering toxins or various illnesses. With innate immunity, this category provides general protection that comes with multiple lines of defense to handle various threats to the body and immune system.

To keep the immune system working as it should, you need to make sure you’re getting enough sleep, or it may not protect you as well as it should. Whether you’re missing a few hours of sleep or are suffering from a persistent sleeping disorder, it doesn’t take much to affect the efficiency and effectiveness of the immune system.

Sleep, including our circadian rhythm, aid the immune system in increasing the production of cytokines associated with our inflammatory response (1). The inflammatory response our immune system triggers are vital for recovery when our body is injured or sick. Considering sleep strengthens our immune system by making it better prepared for potential threats, you can see why a lack of sleep could weaken the immune system.

Sleep Deprivation and a Weakened Immune System

A vast number of health complications can arise from a lack of sleep, and some of these issues take much longer to develop than others. When it comes to our immune system, it doesn’t take much to have a negative effect. It’s known that just a single night of poor sleep can lead to issues such as, decreased number of antibodies, and a higher risk of infection(2).

These issues were recorded from just a single night, so if a poor sleep schedule becomes a part of your daily routine, the consequences can be much worse. A weakened immune system can leave your body susceptible to a wide range of illnesses that can be devastating to varying degrees. No amount of Vitamin C or healthy diets can make up for lack of sleep, so it isn’t something that should be taken lightly.

The Importance of a Consistent Sleep Schedule

You might think that you can make up for lost sleep after a night of minimal rest, but this isn’t the case. Studies have recorded that if you have a week of only four hours of sleep per night and then triple it the next week, it could reduce antibodies by up to 50% (3). This goes to show that by sleeping longer, you aren’t really catching up on the consistent sleep that’s required for a healthy immune system.

Of course, managing a consistent sleep schedule can be quite a challenge for many people. From long work hours, various lifestyle choices, and numerous sleep disorders that are quite common, getting enough sleep takes a decent amount of effort. Thankfully, there’s a lot you can do to help with this, from nightly rituals, a proper diet, supplements, and even medications if that’s what your body needs.

When we get sick or injured, we don’t usually think about how our immune system responds to the situation. We might think we simply got unlucky by circumstance, but in reality, it could be entirely due to the fact we’re walking around with a weakened immune system. Although there are many ways to strengthen the immune system, sleep is something we need every single day for it to function properly. Some people use dietary supplements to promote a better immune system as well as for  sleep support. * 

Do everything you can to ensure you’re benefiting from a full eight hours every night. In turn, your immune system will protect your body from injury and external toxins that can leave an impact on your overall health.

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