SLEEP LOSS AND THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
Recall the last time you had the flu. Miserable, wasn’t it? Runny nose, achy bones, sore throat, heavy cough, and a total lack of energy.
You probably just wanted to curl up in bed and sleep. As well you should.
Your body is trying to sleep itself well. An intimate and bidirectional association exists between your sleep and your immune system.
Sleep fights against infection and sickness by deploying all manner of weaponry within your immune arsenal, cladding you with protection.
When you do fall ill, the immune system actively stimulates the sleep system, demanding more bed rest to help reinforce the war effort.
Reduce sleep for even a single night, and that invisible suit of immune resilience is rudely stripped from your body.
Studies show that less than 5 hours of sleep, 5-6 hours of sleep, 6-7 hours of sleep and 7-8 hours of sleep that there is a clear, linear relationship with infection rate.
The less sleep an individual was getting in the week before facing the active common cold virus, the more likely it was they would be infected and catch a cold. In those sleeping 5 hours on average, the infection rate was almost 50%. In those sleeping 7 hours or more a night in the week prior, the infection rate was just 18%.
Considering that infectious illnesses, such as the common cold, influenza, and pneumonia, are among the leading causes of death in developed countries, doctors and governments would do well to stress the critical importance of sufficient sleep during the flu season.
For more on this subject I heartedly recommend you read a book by Matthew Walker ~ Why we Sleep.
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