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The Effects Of Sleep Deprivation On Your Immune System

The Effects Of Sleep Deprivation On Your Immune System

We all know what happens when we haven’t had a good quality sleep. We wake up tired and groggy, and getting through the day is more difficult. Often, waking up after a night of tossing and turning will also leave you feeling grumpy and foggy. But these effects, although detrimental to your day-to-day activities, are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the negative health effects that sleep deprivation can have on a person.

Aside from the short-term effects, there are long-term impacts that can also be debilitating. Not getting enough sleep ends up draining you mentally and leaves your body at risk of developing chronic diseases or ailments. Research suggests that it’s not just one issue that can develop from having repeated nights of poor sleep, but rather, many.

Read on to find out the true effects of sleep deprivation on your immune system and overall health.

Does sleep deprivation have long term effects?

The long-term effects of sleep deprivation have been researched extensively, and the results are quite alarming. When it comes to psychological effects, studies have shown that not getting enough shut-eye on a regular basis can lead to mood swings; mental illness such as anxiety or depression; paranoia; suicidal thoughts; and impulsive behavior. It can also trigger mania in people with bipolar disorder. Hallucination is also a common result of sleep deprivation if it goes on long enough.

Other bodily systems can also be negatively affected by sleep deprivation. For example, the relationship between the respiratory system and sleep is symbiotic in the sense that some breathing disorders can lead to sleep disruptions, and sleep deprivation can cause a higher susceptibility for developing respiratory infections or worsening an existing respiratory disease.

The digestive system can also be negatively affected by sleep deprivation because of the way sleep affects hormones that control appetite. When you don’t sleep enough, the hormone that tells the brain you are full reduces and the hormone that causes feelings of hunger increases. This can lead to overeating and weight gain. Sleep deprivation has also been shown to cause insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes.

Other systems that are affected include the cardiovascular and endocrine systems. Studies have shown that a continuous lack of good sleep can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Other research has found that hormone production relies heavily on sleep, and when the body doesn’t get enough, hormones can become imbalanced.


Image by Somnox Sleep on Unsplash: Why is sleep good for your immune system?


What happens to your immune system when you sleep?

When it comes to the immune system, sleep is a vital component. This is because during sleep, the immune system continues working towards making sure that the body has everything it needs to help fight off an infection.

For example, while you sleep, the immune system uses the rest time to produce infection-fighting proteins and substances known as cytokines and antibodies. Cytokines, in particular, are used when the body has an infection or inflammation, or even during high periods of stress. These cytokines make sure that the body is well cared for so that it can recover from periods of illness.

Antibodies are designed to help fight against particular infections. When a pathogen enters the body, these substances are protectors, fighting off the threat so you don’t get sick. When the body isn’t getting enough sleep, these antibodies are reduced, which can leave the body open to infection.

How does sleep deprivation affect the immune system?

Your immune system relies heavily on the quality of sleep you get, and the quality of sleep you get also relies on the immune system. As mentioned above, quality sleep needs to occur for the body to be able to create substances and cells that protect it against illness, inflammation, and any other pathogen. The relationship between sleep and the immune system goes both ways, though, because certain cytokines that are produced by the immune system also play a role in the quality of sleep you get. For you to be at your best physically and mentally, both the immune system and your sleep quality need to be adequate. Without one or the other, your health could suffer greatly.


Image by Hernan Sanchez on Unsplash: Sleep deprivation can do more than just leave you tired during the day.


How much sleep does the average adult need?

Although everyone is different and needs various amounts of sleep based on their own body, the average number of hours a person needs to sleep per night for it to be beneficial is seven to nine. The issue with this is that it’s not just the length of sleep a person gets, but also the quality of the sleep they’re getting that plays a role in the overall health of the immune system. Without quality sleep, the quantity doesn’t matter as much.

Sleep quality relies on several factors, including how long it takes you to fall asleep, how well you stay asleep throughout the night, how much time you spend asleep while you’re in bed, your circadian rhythm, and how alert you are while you’re awake. All of these factors will play a role in immune health because they are vital to your sleep quality.

Sleep and immune function work as a team, and thus, both need to be at their best for your body to win out against health issues that can arise. To keep the body safe from chronic diseases, infections, and other ailments, you need the right amount of good-quality sleep. Sleep deprivation is detrimental to your overall health, and it all starts at the immune system.


Featured image by Damir Spanic on Unsplash

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