During this global coronavirus crisis, we all have many reasons to be sleep deprived. Stress, worry, or just simply having too much time in our hands to binge-watch tv shows. We have to make an effort to change this.
Sleep is the most important factor for the body’s fight against any infection. Sleep actually helps our bodies to create the immune cells we need to fight against viruses or bacteria. Adequate sleep is necessary for a proper response from our immune systems. It also accelerates healing after we get infected.
Without adequate sleep, our immune system cannot function properly. There is a complex relationship between our sleep-wake cycles and our immune systems.
Immune System and the Sleep-Wake Cycle Connection
- Immune fighter cells and white blood cells that are responsible for combating viruses and pathogens are produced during our sleep. Disease-fighting cells and substances are released and activated while we sleep.
- Sleep boosts our immune systems by enhancing the functioning of T cells. T cells are crucial for the immune system's ability to respond quickly and efficiently to any threats. During sleep, mature T cells are sent to lymph nodes and they record immunological memories.
- Prolonged sleep deprivation along with stress impairs T cells functions and leads to a dysfunctional immune system. Lack of sleep can severely impair your immunity and make you more vulnerable to any kind of infection.
- Sleep and healing are also tightly related, which also explains why we sleep more during our sickness.
Sleep Deprivation results in weakened Immune System
University of Washington researchers took blood samples from 11 pairs of identical twins with different sleep patterns. They discovered that the twin with shorter sleep duration had a depressed immune system, compared with the identical siblings. The number of immune cells was found in higher numbers in the twins with longer sleeping periods.
One of the consequences of long-term sleep deprivation is a weakened immune system which leaves us less protected when the next bug comes along. Sleep should be at the top of the list of things to do while you are socially distancing to fight against coronavirus spread.
Even short-term loss of sleep has a significant impact on how the immune system functions. A small amount of sleep loss can trigger an immune system response in the body that increases inflammation. These findings help to explain the link between sleep problems and increased risks for diseases like diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, obesity, and even cancers.
Our bodies need a strong immune system in order to fight off disease and infection. Sleep deprivation makes us more susceptible to each new virus and bacteria we encounter. It can also cause us to be sick for a longer period of time as our bodies lack the resources to properly fight whatever it is that is making us sick.
Dealing with the stress of this Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak
Clearly, getting good sleep is more crucial than ever right now. But at the same time, seventy percent (70%) of people say they feel unable to disconnect from technology as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. We have to change that habit, not just for ourselves, but for the rest of the family as well.
TVs, cell phones, and electronics should be kept out of the bedroom. Our phones feed our anxieties and fears, especially in times of crisis when we constantly check updates. Avoid stimulants like alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine before bedtime. Set daily exercise and meditation time. Take a break from social media.
As the coronavirus news gets overwhelmingly scary and stressful, it can also negatively affect our sleep pattern. Without enough sleep, our stress level gets amplified.
It is especially important to make a conscious effort to get enough sleep as a way to manage the anxiety and depression the current outbreak may cause.
Taking some steps can improve our sleep quality and increase your immune response during this COVID-19 pandemic. As coronavirus spread goes fast around the globe, setting a sleep routine that allows us the needed hours of rest is important in equipping the body with a stronger defense against the coronavirus. While monitoring the news for this crisis, preserving some time for yourself to relax helps to get better sleep.
Take care of yourself and others around you.
Tina Ureten, MD, RDMS, RDCS
Inventor of BB Holistics Weighted Blankets
Sleep and immune function
Chronic sleep deprivation suppresses immune system
To Sleep Is to Heal: How the Immune System Regulates Sleep When Sickness Strikes
The Effect of Sleep on the Immune System
Effects of sleep and circadian rhythm on human circulating immune cells.
How does sleep affect the immune system?