Tags: Health Topics | sleep | immune system

How Sleep Boosts the Immune System

By    |   Friday, 14 August 2015 03:01 PM

Sleep affects a body’s immune system, and those who have sleep deficits open themselves up for illness.

"Studies show that people who don't get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as a common cold virus. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick," noted Dr. Eric J. Olson, writing on the Mayo Clinic's website.

He added: "Our body needs sleep to fight infectious diseases. Long-term lack of sleep also increases your risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease."

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What happens in the body that is sleep deprived is this: the immune system is filled with a group of cells and proteins that work to keep infections away. They don't work well if you are sleep-deprived. In fact, those with long-term sleep problems can set themselves up for long-term conditions like heart disease, scientists say.

“A lot of studies show our T-cells go down if we are sleep deprived,” Dr. Diwakar Balachandran, director of the Sleep Center at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston told WebMD. “And inflammatory cytokines go up. ... This could potentially lead to the greater risk of developing a cold or flu… The more all-nighters you pull, the more likely you are to decrease your body’s ability to respond to colds or bacterial infections.”

There are two types of insomnia: chronic and short-term, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Chronic insomnia is defined by bouts of insomnia three times weekly and continuing over a period of at least three months. It occurs in about 10 percent of the population. Short-term insomnia is brief but also continues over several months. Research shows that about 15 percent to 20 percent of the population suffers from this version.

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Those with chronic insomnia should seek medical attention to help ease the problems. Some problems can be treated with medications, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine said, before they begin to compromise not only immune response but a patient's long-term health.

Others can be mitigated with strategies such as tapering off caffeine consumption, limiting workout times and other techniques used by therapists to reduce stress and refocus sleep as a priority.

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Sleep affects a body's immune system, and those who have sleep deficits open themselves up for illness.
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Friday, 14 August 2015 03:01 PM
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