How Lack Of Sleep Affects Your Immune System

A good night's sleep does more than make you feel refreshed. It's also associated with a number of benefits. For one, it can improve your health by keeping your hormones stable. Your hormones affect everything from your stress levels to your blood pressure, according to Verywell Health. Not only that, but restful, deep sleep can improve your alertness, memory, physical abilities, heart health, body weight, and even problem-solving and thinking skills.

Sleep is also critical for a properly functioning immune system. Clean Eating explains that when the body is at rest, some functions slow down, giving your immune system the energy it needs to work. This work includes locating and removing waste. Your immune system needs to be strong enough to function not only when you're sick or have an injury, but when you are well. If you're getting enough sleep, you're helping equip your immune system to keep you healthy. 

Your immune system suffers if you don't get enough sleep

It may sound odd, but the immune system depends on inflammation to get its job done. The Sleep Foundation explains that inflammation strengthens the body's healing process by increasing the amount of cytokines that white blood cells produce. This process takes place whether you are sick or not, and it happens when you sleep. In particular, it occurs during deep sleep, when the metabolism is the lowest. So, it's important to not only get sleep but to get deep, restful sleep.

Researchers believe that if this kind of inflammation occurred during waking hours, it would impede physical and mental functions, per the Sleep Foundation. Getting less than six or seven hours of sleep per night on a regular basis can negatively affect immune function because your immune system can't do everything it needs to do to keep you healthy. Not only that, but a lack of sleep has been linked to a higher risk of diabetes, heart disease, and certain infections like the common cold and flu.

If you find you have trouble sleeping, you can try working on a bedtime routine that includes consistent sleep hours and avoiding blue screens before bed (per Mayo Clinic). If you regularly have trouble sleeping, try speaking with your doctor about your options.