Get Some Sleep: Getting good rest helps you stay well

In health on March 16, 2011 by quriasw Tagged: ,

Karen considered herself a normal, healthy, 30-something-year-old woman, but she had noticed that in the past two years or so she was always getting sick: colds, flues, sinus infections, GI bugs. “I never use to get sick, but now it seems like every other week, I am coming down with something.”

We talked about what had changed in the past two years. The answer was: everything. She had finished law school and moved to Chicago to work for a large firm. She was working 60-80 hours per week, eating fast food, not exercising and sleeping only five to six hours per night.

She had read about a connection between poor sleep and a lowered immune system and came to the sleep center to discuss if sleep deprivation was at the root of her troubles.

It turns out that the relationship between sleep and our immune system is very complicated and there is much research that remains to be done. It seems that small amounts of sleep loss may actually help you fight off infection while profound or prolonged sleep deprivation can greatly diminish your ability to ward off infection.

Several years ago, Lange and colleagues showed that health subjects who were kept awake one whole night after immunization with the hepatitis A vaccine had a 50 percent lower antibody response at four weeks compared with control subjects who slept eight hours after receiving the vaccine.

However, a similar study by Spiegel at the University of Chicago looked at people’s ability to mount an immune response to the influenza vaccine and found mixed results. In this case, the subjects were partially sleep restricted for several days before and after receiving the vaccine and indeed their antibody titers were about 50 percent lower than well-slept control subjects when tested 10 days out. However, in contrast to the other study, at three weeks, the antibody titers were similar in the two groups.



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