Do not compromise on your sleep! Your immune system needs it
As we scramble to pharmacy shops to buy overpriced sanitizers and face masks, we might be forgetting something basic but powerful that we’ve always had in our arsenal against viral infections – our defense mechanism. Let us understand how this system works before we reveal how sleep strengthens our immunity manifolds.
Immune System vs Viral Infections
When a virus enters our body and infects cells, it causes duplication of the infected cell to rapidly multiply and spread. Our blood contains a specific type of cell called Antigen Presenting Cell (APC). These APC cells envelop and destroy infected cells. When an APC cell envelops an infected cell, it meets up with a CD4 cell, called the Th1 response. This CD4 cell is the mastermind behind our cellular immunity as it stimulates two types of very important cells: one is what we call Killer Cells (CD8 cells). These killer cells seek out infected cells, bind with them and then destroy them. The second type of cells stimulated by the CD4 cell is called B cells that produce antibodies that also seek out infected cells to neutralize.
This response finally generates long-lasting immunological memory for the antigen. Sleep, in particular slow wave sleep (SWS), and the circadian system act in concert to generate a pro-inflammatory hormonal milieu. The hormonal changes in turn support the early steps in the generation of an adaptive immune response in the lymph nodes. In analogy to neuro-behavioural memory formed in the central nervous system, the different phases of immunological memory might be divided in an encoding, a consolidation and a recall phase.
This process is what we know as immunity. The strength of our immunity decides our chances of surviving a viral infection.
The Ultimate Technique To Strengthen Immunity: Sleep
The greatest solution at our disposal to bolster our immunity is not a drug and is absolutely free – SLEEP.
Sleep enhances the Th1 response, boosts B cell production and strengthens the bond between Killer cells and infected cells, resulting in the successful elimination of viruses and bacterias. Here’s the research to prove the same.
The Relationship b/w Sleep and Immunity
Ever wondered why sleep is recommended as the best medicine in almost all cultures around the world? Sleep and immunity are strongly interlinked. There is extensive research done in the last 20 years that proves that sleep has a tremendous effect on immune response against viruses. A good sleep positively affects our immune parameters, is associated with reduced infection risk, and can improve infection outcome and vaccination responses.
Research has proven that people who regularly sleep more than seven hours a night improve their immunity by 400% when compared to people who sleep less than six hours a night.
The first and foremost factor in tackling coronavirus or any other virus for that matter is prevention. At the same time, strengthening our immune system can ensure that our body is ready even if the virus breaks through the first line of defense. Sleeping for at least 7 hrs every night takes care of our immunity and provides us with a host of other benefits that you can read about here.
Sleep and immune function, Luciana Besedovsky, Tanja Lange, and Jan Born