How do sleep patterns affect the immune system?

Stanford researchers showed just how much stronger our immune system is at night by infecting flies with two strains of bacteria--some of those flies were infected during the day. Those that got sick during the night were more likely to survive than those getting sick during the day.

I have no doubt that if we were to test this theory on humans, we’d find similar results. It’s long been known that quality sleep boosts immunity. When most of our bodily functions are at rest, our immune systems can amplify.

The Stanford scientists also noticed that circadian rhythms come into play. Flies in the study that had abnormal sleep-wake patterns--even when infected with the bacteria during the night--had a hard time beating the infection. In humans it’s the same: if your body clock is off, which can happen when you travel, work odd hours, or have difficulty sleeping to keep your internal clock and natural sleep patterns “on time,” you run the risk of lowering your immunity.

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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.