Does sleep deprivation affect your immunity?

How health conscious are you? Putting this question may prompt a quick reaction from you and your mind starts wandering off to your daily activities like your early morning walk, gym, right choice of food and what not. But one aspect which might not be getting due attention is your daily sleep. Yes, the rat race of life may involve you so much that so far you might not have paid enough attention to this very important need of your body and you might not be getting enough sleep. If so, then there is a wake-up call for you. Yes, because by not getting enough sleep you may weaken your immunity. In other words, lack of sleep is directly connected to your well being. You may not realize initially but sleep deprivation may slowly weaken your immunity.

Sleep and Immunity

In the recent past, a lot of research has been done on sleep. It has revealed a lot more about the close relationship between sleep and our body system. Research shows that our sleep is clearly connected to our sound physical health. It has made amply clear that sleep indeed directly leaves an impact on our immune system. How strong is our immune system, to a large extent, depends on our sleep.

For effective immune system it is very important that you get consistent sleep. If not, it can play havoc with your health and  throw off your immune system as research reveals that both short-term as well as long term sleep deprivation can be a reason of a number of sickness.

What is immune system?

To put in a simple way, our immune system is a complex network throughout our body which builds many layers of defences against infection and diseases. The immunity system in our body can be divided into two types – – innate immunity and adaptive immunity. Innate immunity is a broader type of defense which has a number of layers. Whereas, adaptive immunity, as the name indicates, is a type of immunity that our body develops over the time and this type of immunity is targeted to specific types of threats.

How our immune system functions?

Our immune system functions in a complex way and it has a number of components. The immune system reaction can be sometimes immediate or sometimes, in due course of time, our body learns to react against a particular type of infection.

Leukocytes or white blood cells are one among a number of important components. The function of leukocytes is to identify attack and remove pathogens or foreign particles from our body.

As our body detects a foreign particle, white blood cells (WBCs) release cytokines to warn other WBCs. Cytokines are proteins which act as informers for the immune system. It is very important that our body has a strong immune system so that it can detect and attack pathogens as and when required.

Sleep deprivation and Immunity 

Sleep is an extremely important period of rest for our body. Sleep gives the much-needed support to the immune system of our body. Apart from doing some other important functions, good sleep helps our body to have a strong adaptive and innate immunity.

Studies revealed that during sleep some components of our immune system gear up for some other vital functions of the body. For example, production of cytokines increases during sleep which is related to inflammation. Further, sleep also improves the immune system memory too. The ability of our immune systems to recognize and react increases manifold if we get good sleep. Also, at night Melatonin, a sleep -promoting hormone, is produced which can counter stress well.

A very important function of sleep is that it helps our body cells and tissues to recover from the wear and tear of daily life. Also, other important functions of our body like tissue repair, muscle growth and protein synthesis occur during sleep.

When you sleep, your immune system releases cytokines which your body requires to fight off infection or stress. On the other hand, sleep deprivation may decrease production of these protective cytokines in your body. Also sleep deprivation might increase your risk of obesity, diabetes and heart related disease. To sum it up, here is a list of the effects of sleep deprivation.

Sleep deprivation effects:

  1. Gaining weight

Sleep deprivation might result in weight gain, obesity and other diseases related to overweight.

  1. Low sex drive

Less sleep can lower your sex drive. The decrease in libido might be due to a drop in testosterone levels.

  1. Diabetes

If you are not getting enough sleep, you are likely to suffer from high blood sugar levels and type 2 diabetes.

  1. Mood swings

Sleep deprivation might leave you being short-tempered, moody and emotional, which can result in anxiety and depression.

  1. Lack of concentration

Due to less sleep your concentration and creativity might be severely impacted.

  1. High blood pressure

Less sleep time might increase your risk of high blood pressure and it can further lead to heart disease.

What can you do for sound sleep?

Create cozy environment for adequate sleep

It is ideal to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. But the requirement might change from person to person. Not getting enough sleep even for one night might put your body in sleep debt. So, you can make certain changes at your place for getting adequate amount of sleep. You can try to reduce or completely eliminate distractions in your path of getting sound sleep. You can make your bedroom comfortable and dark. A cool environment might help in inducing sleep so that also has to be looked into. Certain day time activities might help you in sleep. For example, you can exercise during day which will help you at night in your sleep. Also, cutting down your consumption of alcohol and caffeine can help you in enjoying sleep.

A 360-degree overview:

Now, when you know the benefits of good sleep, the choice is yours. Of course, it is the right time for you to reflect on the amount of sleep that you are getting every night. In case, you are not getting enough sleep, you should prioritize adequate amount of sleep in your life so that you can boost your immune system and lead a healthy life.


(The content of this article is for informational purpose only. It cannot be a substitute for advice from a medical practitioner. Read DISCLAIMER for more…)



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