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Sleep and Immunity: Healthy Sleep is Essential to a Strong Immune System

sleep, sleep and immunity, sleep health

We’re sure, with a high degree of certainty, that we’ve all hit a rough patch in our sleep patterns at one point or another. That’s pretty normal, but what should be avoided is a consistent lack of sleep.

Why? Studies show that individuals who aren’t getting quality sleep (or enough sleep) are more likely to get sick after exposure to a virus than those who are. Not only can lack of sleep make you more likely to get sick, it can also affect the speed in which your body recovers from said illness.

It is vitally important to maintain an overall healthy lifestyle – which includes good sleep habits. In this article, we’ll share some different tips and tricks for what you can do to help improve your sleep health.


Even after you decide to call it ‘lights out’ after a full day, your body continues to work hard at keeping your immune system healthy. One way that your body does this is by developing cytokines.

What are Cytokines?

That’s a great question! As we learned from, cytokines are a type of protein released by the immune system while we sleep. They are a key component to the growth and activity of cells within the human immune system.

As anyone who’s faced a restless night of sleep is aware, there are many negative effects to being deprived of sleep. One such effect that you might not be aware of is the decrease in production of cytokines and other antibodies and cells important to maintaining your health.

Cytokines are especially important when the body is under stress; increasing in number when the body is fighting off an infection or inflammation.

On top of the immediate decrease in production of cytokines that we face when our sleep is cut short, there are also risks associated with a long-term lack of sleep. According to Eric J. Olson, MD, long-term lack of sleep increases your risk for:

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular Disease


The world has drastically changed due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has led to a number of ‘firsts’ for many people, including working from home. One study from Apollo Technical found that 65% of surveyed remote workers also reported working more hours than they had while working in the office.

On top of the extra hours of work, you might have found yourself becoming:

  • A ‘certified’ teacher to your children
  • A personal chef to your family – morning, noon and night
  • A professional housekeeper

With all these extra jobs heaped on your already-full plate, it’s likely that you aren’t taking as much time for yourself as you once were.

Board-certified nurse practitioner Ellen Wermter recommends the following:

“Try to process emotions during the day and take care of your physical and mental health. It’s normal to experience sleep deprivation right now. That’s our survival instinct kicking in, trying to run every scenario to solve this problem. But don’t make temporary poor sleep an additional source of anxiety.

Instead, do your best to make a nightly sleep appointment for seven to eight hours of stress-reducing, immunity-boosting sleep.”


Now that we have you thinking about a good night’s sleep, you’re probably wondering how much is the right amount for you. Guidelines from The National Sleep Foundation recommend adults age 18 to 64 should be getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.

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