How does lack of sleep impact my immune system?

Sleep problems can contribute to cardiovascular disease and a range of other health problems, possibly including decreased immune system functioning. Some animal and human studies have shown that lack of sleep appears to lower the white blood cell count, which is an indication of decreased immune function. This means you may be more susceptible to illnesses when you are sleep deprived. More research is needed to understand the effects of poor sleep on the body, but if you have sleep problems bring them to the attention of your physician. Together you can identify likely causes of poor sleep and appropriate treatment options.

Sleep deprivation dampens the production of the antibodies needed to fight infection; whereas allowing yourself to get adequate sleep will buoy your mood and give you more energy to exercise—both of which can help heighten your immune activity. A study in Psychosomatic Medicine found that even minor sleep disturbances cause a significant drop in the number of natural killer cells whose job is to destroy invaders.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.