You may have heard reports that sleep-deprived people are more likely to suffer from weakened immune systems. In one study, people who normally sleep eight hours per night were asked to sleep only four hours -- and blood tests afterward showed that their immune systems were suppressed. Does this mean that sleep regulates and repairs the immune system? Maybe, but it’s hard to say how this study applies to the real world. Again, few of us who really need eight hours of sleep regularly try to get by on four. And again, the stress of the study -- sleeping in a strange place and so on -- may account for some of the immune changes. Finally, no one has shown that the kind of immune suppression produced in a petri dish leads to disease in humans.
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