It’s not news that sleep deprivation may make you stressed, but a new study says that lack of sleep may actually have the same effect on your immune system as stress. If you’re confused, this means that sleep deprivation can affect your body negatively, in the same way that stress does. Basically, not sleeping = stress = a compromised immune system = even more motivation to get your nightly zzzs. At least, according to this study.
The study, published in the journal SLEEP, found that white blood cell levels (which increase when your body is trying to fight infection) increased dramatically when a person was sleep-deprived. The study was conducted using 15 healthy young men who first experienced, normal, stabilized sleep, then were kept awake for 29 hours.
Katrin Ackermann, one of the study’s authors and a researcher at Erasmuc MC Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands, said in a statement:
Future research will reveal the molecular mechanisms behind this immediate stress response and elucidate its role in the development of diseases associated with chronic sleep loss. If confirmed with more data, this will have implications for clinical practice and for professions associated with long-term sleep loss, such as rotating shift work.
This study is really hitting home for me today. The older I get, the more I realize how crucial sleep is to my wellbeing, both mentally and physically. I was out of power for the last few days and my apartment was basically an oven, so I got very poor sleep (Picture me sleeping in a bikini on my living room floor with an ice pack on the back of my neck. Not super restful).
And now? I have a cold. Yeah, I know that a cold is courtesy of a virus and not strictly due to lack of sleep, but I’m sure my body could have fought the virus off better if it had been adequately rested. Personally, I know that the best thing I can do for my immune system is to get enough rest. And increasingly, science agrees.
It can be difficult to get enough sleep if you’re undergoing a period of stress, and sleep needs are also very individual. But as research continues to show, getting an adequate amount of sleep for your body is one of the best things you can do for your health.
Photo: Flashon Studio/Shutterstock