When you have had the unfortunate experience of a night of little to no sleep, it’s likely you’ve noticed you feel awful the next day – almost like you’re getting sick.
That feeling might not just be in your head – science supports that your immune system could be compromised by a lack of sleep. Sleep is incredibly important to our overall health and consistently getting less sleep that ideal can lead to a multitude of problems.
Sleepless Nights Can Harm You
According to an article in the American Journal of Clinical and Experimental Immunology, “Our capacity to remain healthy is badly affected by loss of sleep.” You may already know from personal experience that persistent sleep loss results in uncomfortable side effects including irritability, blood sugar swings, and difficulty concentrating, which are just some of the things we feel after a night or two of not getting enough rest.
If it remains a problem for an extended period, sleeplessness carries even greater consequences for our health if it isn’t addressed. Heart attack, stroke, depression, psychiatric disorders, and immune system deficiencies are a few of the maladies that can be caused or exacerbated by sleeplessness.
Sleeplessness and Your Immunity
The immune system is the first line of defence against illness.
As with the rest of our bodies, the immune system functions best with adequate rest. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Lack of sleep can affect your immune system. Studies show that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus such as a common cold virus. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.”
When we sleep, our bodies make proteins called cytokines. These cytokines naturally increase when we’re fighting off infection, inflammation or stress. If we don’t get the sleep we need, then our bodies can’t create the required cytokines, which in turn makes us vulnerable to illness. Getting sufficient sleep actually strengthens our immune system.
While we can do other helpful things to strengthen our immune system like washing our hands or taking vitamins, nothing can replace the value of good sleep. When our sleep suffers, our ability to fight off common colds and illnesses does too, leaving us most susceptible to sickness.
Next Steps for a Better Night’s Rest
If you think you might suffer from Sleep Apnea, reach out to your Doctor today – it’s worth it for your health!