Sleep Disorders

The importance of Sleep for your immune system


The Immune System can be greatly affected by the amount of Sleep and the quality of sleep you get on a regular basis. 

When you have a sleep disorder like sleep apnea, it does a lot more than cause fatigue due to a lack of quality of sleep. Because, when you lack the right amount of sleep, your immune system is also impacted in a number of ways, such as slowing down your immune system.

illustration of 2 people with masks

Poor Sleep Inhibits T Cells

Your T cells are part of your immune system. These cells specifically fight off viral pathogens, from the regular flu to cancer. But, without enough sleep, your body’s T cells become inhibited by higher levels of stress hormones—specifically, noradrenaline and adrenaline—which makes your overall immune system less effective. However, the effects don’t have to be permanent. In a 2019 study, researchers found that during our sleep, the impact of stress hormones are naturally lower. During this lowered time, your T cells are better at attacking and destroying viruses. So, if you are feeling sick, getting rest and proper sleep can be the best thing you can do to get better quicker.

Lack Of Sleep Impedes Cytokines Production

T cells aren’t the only part of your immune system that relies on a good night’s sleep. Your body produces a specific protein called cytokines. The cytokines target inflammation and infection, aiming to eliminate both.

However, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body can’t produce as many cytokines proteins to protect you. Even if you get the flu vaccine, it will be less effective without enough sleep and cytokines to help protect you.

So, how do you go about getting more sleep for an improved immune system?

Here are some important tips to share:
  • Only take short naps – It can be tempting to take a nap when you are feeling low on energy. The problem with naps is that it can be easy to take one that is too long. If you need to nap, it needs to be 20 minutes long or less, and it is best if you don’t nap after 3 pm.
  • Get tested for sleep apnea- If you suspect that sleep apnea may be the source of your sleep issues, don’t wait to commit to a sleep study. We offer overnight studies in a comfortable home-like environment at Serenity Sleep Lab in Cullman, Alabama. Dr. Mir Varquez is board-certified and has 30 years of experience as a cardiologist and sleep specialist.
  • Initiate new sleep routines – Training your body can play a significant part in getting better sleep. For instance, you should stick to routine wake up and bedtimes to help your body get into a natural rhythm.
  • It is also a good idea to limit caffeine intake and alcohol consumption, as caffeine can keep you up, and alcohol can prevent REM sleep.
  • Exercise regularly – Regular exercise helps support your immune system, as it provides a positive stressor for your body while allowing for a healthy release of pent-up energy. Exercising regularly also helps your body embrace a natural sleep cycle.
  • Use your CPAP machine If you have been previously diagnosed with (OSA) sleep apnea. It is important that you use your equipment to ensure you get a restful night’s sleep and keep you safe.
  • Ask a sleep specialist such as Dr. Mir Varquez about various treatments and what may be appropriate for you.  Treatments may include CPAP or APAP, which can help keep your airway open as you sleep restfully.

If you suspect a chronic sleep disorder please contact a sleep specialist in your area. If you live in the Cullman, Alabama area do not hesitate to contact us.


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*Original article copyrighted and published by apneamd-republished and shared for informational purposes only.