Would you prioritize sleep if you knew it kept your immune system strong? That’s the question the American Academy of Sleep Medicine wants you to ponder this week. Lost in the hoopla surrounding Independence day was the publication of some eye-opening or eye-shutting research by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine showing that the immune system responds sharply to sleep loss.
In the study, intimidatingly named “Diurnal Rhythms in Blood Cell Populations and the Effect of Acute Sleep Deprivation in Healthy Young Men,” Researchers at the Erasmus MC University Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and the University of Surrey in the UK measured white blood cell counts in young men who sleep eight hours and men whose sleep was restricted, and found a spike in white blood cells, particularly those called granulocytes, released in response to immune system threat.
The researchers’ conclusion: Severe sleep loss jolts the immune system just as stress does read on for more on stress.
Sleep Loss Quadruples Stroke Risk
In addition to shocking your immune system, lack of sleep also raises your stroke risk – even if you’re relatively young and healthy. New research, presented last month at SLEEP 2012, found that those who cut back their sleep to less than six hours of sleep a night are at 4.5 percent greater risk of having a stroke compared with those who slept 7 to 8 hours a night. Though researchers don’t know the exact mechanism, it seems that chronic lack of sleep causes inflammation, elevates blood pressure and heart rate, and affects glucose levels, leading to a much higher stroke risk in the sleep-deprived.
Most concerning, though, is that the 5,000+ people studied were healthy, middle-aged adults with a body mass index in the normal range — not those typically considered at high stroke risk. And their sleep loss wasn’t as extreme as in the immune study; these folks reported getting less than six hours of sleep a night – the amount that 30 percent of the American population reports getting.
For some tips on getting to sleep more easily, see 5 Foods to Help You Sleep
Strange Random Sleep Quote:
“People say, ‘I’m going to sleep now,’ as if it were nothing. But it’s really a bizarre activity. ‘For the next several hours, while the sun is gone, I’m going to become unconscious, temporarily losing command over everything I know and understand. When the sun returns, I will resume my life.’
If you didn’t know what sleep was, and you had only seen it in a science fiction movie, you would think it was weird and tell all your friends about the movie you’d seen.
- Sleep deprivation effect on the immune system mirrors physical stress (eurekalert.org)
- Poor Sleep Affects Immune System Much Like Physical Stress (news.health.com)
- Severe Sleep Loss Affects Immune System Like Physical Stress Does (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Sleep Loss Has a Major Effect on Our Immune System (ibtimes.com)
- Sleep loss jolts immune system into hyperactivity – Firstpost (firstpost.com)
- Severe sleep deprivation hurt immunity (upi.com)
- Sleep Deprivation Affects Immune System Like Physical Stress – PsychCentral.com (drugstoresource.wordpress.com)
- Sleep Deprivation Effect On the Immune System Mirrors Physical Stress (thesciencebulletin.wordpress.com)