How our immune system fights sickness is based on a variety of factors - and sleep is one of them. So, how important is a good night’s sleep in relation to fighting a virus?
There’s a reason doctors highly recommended resting and staying in bed when we are sick. That’s because sleep deprivation suppresses our immune system’s ability to fight bacterial infections and viruses. A study led by Dr. Prather at UC San Francisco mentions that people who sleep 6 hours or less are 4 times more likely to catch a cold compared to those who sleep for at least 7 hours. With more sleep, your immune system fights harmful bacterias and keeps you healthy.
So, what’s happening in our immune system when we don’t sleep enough and we happen to catch a virus? When our T-cells are healthy and numerous, they protect our bodies from bacterias and infections. More specifically, T-cells activate proteins called integrins that attach to an infected cell, and basically kill it. In contrast, studies show that our T-cell count goes down when we don’t get enough sleep. They are a key component in fighting viruses as they adapt and protect our bodies from unwanted bacterias and infections. This is the main reason lack of sleep makes us more prone to sickness.
There are many studies that prove how important sleep is for our overall health. In fact, it’s just as important as diet and exercise. As Dr. Prather notes “It goes beyond feeling groggy or irritable. Not getting sleep fundamentally affects your physical health”.