A healthy sleep pattern is essential for a healthy life. Adequate sleep helps the immune system in the body and boosts T-cells to fight potential infections. However, the late-night working and excessive workload these days put people to sleepless nights.
Amid COVID, the situation worsened when the work time and place suddenly got a complete shift. This has raised the visible health issues amongst people.
Research shows that sound sleep (sleep hypnosis)plays a significant role in inculcating goodness to overall health. An individual may observe several disorders in case of sleep deprivation. A feeling of sickness immediately captivates the mind when you have continuous sleepless nights.
Psychologists usually advise their under-stressed patients to take adequate sleep. But how does sleep directly affect the immune system? We will get an idea about the same further in this article.
How Does the Immune System Work?
Before finding out the connection between a good night's sleep and the body's immunity, let us first understand the working of the immune system.
The immune system works as a defence system. It is a complex system, generally divided into two parts, innate immunity, and adaptive immunity. The immune system is mainly responsible for defending the body against foreign substances, also called antigens, which may attack in various forms of illness.
Specific organs, chemicals, and cells create the immune system to fight against microbes or infections.
The primary purpose of the body's immune system is to fight back and remove the bacteria, germs, viruses, fungi, or parasites, which cause illness, to recognize the foreign substances and neutralise them before causing harmful disease, and to eliminate bad cells from the body.
The immune system works with white blood cells, thymus, antibodies, lymphatic, bone marrow, and the complement system. Therefore, the immune system removes the antigens from the body, generally, proteins that stay on the surface of bacteria, fungi, viruses, or cells.
Sleep and Immune System
So how does the immune system and sleep connect?
It's been found that a good night's sleep directly affects the body's immunity. Taking sufficient hours of sound sleep will strengthen the innate and adaptive immunity and the body's defence system.
On the contrary, sleep deprivation issues such as insomnia, circadian rhythm disruption, sleep apnea can cause adverse effects on the immune system and physical health.
Satisfactory hours of sleep contribute to the body's immune system working better. Research shows that when you are in a complete rest (restless leg syndrome) position, your body secretes a chemical called cytokines, which primarily takes care of your internal systems and eliminates the possibilities of infections or inflammations.
It also assists the brain when you are under-stressed or depressed. Sound sleep boosts this component formation, and insufficient sleep patterns or sleep disorders may decrease it in the body.
High-quality sleep also helps produce a component of the immune system known as T-cells. The T-cells are white blood cells, crucial to fight off the major infections and viruses which may cause COVID-19.
The T-cells are sticky proteins that attach to the virally infected cells and are likely to kill them before causing diseases such as cold and flu. As per several studies, these cells are active when a person is taking high-quality sleep, particularly between 7 to 8 hours.
However, when sleep deprivation is observed, the integrin activation is hampered or deactivated. It is observed that poor sleep increases stress hormones, which adversely affect the ability and activeness of T-cells.
Why is Sleep so Important to your Health?
Sleep disorders are most common these days, and the reason behind them is our irregular lifestyle. The adequate hours of sleep, which falls ideally between 7 to 9 hours, helps boost the body's optimum physical and mental health.
The excess workload causes imbalanced sleep patterns, which later may become disorders like sleep apnea or insomnia. Irregular sleep also deprives you of taking care of your bodily needs, which in turn deteriorates your health to a greater level.
Your body starts giving signals if you do not prioritise and correct your sleep pattern. Prolonged sleep disorders may invite health problems like diabetes, heart diseases, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, increased stress level, etc.
The sleep hour varies as per the age of a person. A toddler can sleep for nearly eleven to fourteen hours, while seven to nine hours of sleep is suitable for an adult. As you grow, your sleeping hours may decline. However, the long-term rest of fewer than 4 hours may start showing ominous signs to your health.
Following are some health benefits, which occurs only if you follow a healthy sleep time routine:
- Strengthens immunity and regulates immune system hormonal secretion
- Increase concentration and productivity
- Revamp behavioural disorders
- Boost academic performances
- Reduce the chances of unnecessary weight gain or obesity
- Boosts metabolism and regulates excess calories consumption
- Reduces risks associated with heart or cardiovascular diseases
- It helps to control diabetes and blood sugar level
- Prevent mental health issues like stress, depression, and anxiety
- Reduces the inflammatory bowel diseases
- Helps in increased physical capabilities
- Boosts concentration power and memory
- Helps in repairing internal or external damages
Sleep Can Help Your Body Fight Infections
Sometimes, a good night's sleep can prove to be the best medicine. It's been found out in several pieces of research that adequate sleep secretes a component called T-cells, which is responsible for fighting off the viral causing infections.
The immune system forms a defence system to protect the body's internal functioning, and sleep helps boost its workability. Lack of sleep or continuous sleepless nights can cause ill effects to the immune system, and you may fall sick.
The poor immune system invites infections caused by various bacteria and viruses, and your body may develop some serious illness.
A protein called cytokines secreted from the body while having a deep sleep. The cytokines help revamp the internal system's infection-causing germs, bacteria, and viruses. The increased level of specific cytokines also reduces inflammation and stress hormones.
In contrast, sleep deprivation lowers the formation of antibodies and cells, which are responsible for tackling the infection-causing agents. So the lack of sleep means you tend to invite a series of infections and diseases in your body.
Immune Cells Functions
The immune cells most likely work like an army to tackle the enemies like viruses, fungus, bacteria, germs, pathogens, and a series of disease-causing foreign substances. The various cells, which acts as a major player in fighting illness, are discussed below:
- T Cells
T cells are the white blood cells that help overcome bodily infections and inflammations. There are two types of T cells; helper T cells and cytotoxic T cells. Both the cells have distinct functions to alarm the body against infection attacks.
The Helper T cell signals in the molecular secretion that raise the alarm against intruders. On the other hand, Cytotoxic T cells recognize and destroy the cells that pathogens have overruled by attaching them directly. Sound sleep (sleep apps)encourages T cells' ability and increases the body's immunity to fight against such issues.
- B Cells
B cells are another vital agent of the body immune system responsible for searching and eliminating the risks caused by pathogens. The antibodies located in the B cell's surface are attached to the pathogens and other non-recognizable substances.
B cells roam around the body, policing the internal system against bacteria. As the presence of bacteria is notified, the B cells bind to it instantly. The Helper cell also helps the B cells to form multiple copies to increase the destruction rate and remove the chances of bacteria multiplying.
- NK Cells
The natural killer (NK) cells destroy those cells that have been attacked or invaded by pathogens. This complex process occurs when the compound called programmed cell death is realised by the NK cells.
The instructions to the infected cells are secreted through this compound, which signals them to shut its functioning instantly. NK cells are essential antibodies to fight against tumour-causing cells and reduce the chances of cancer.
Phagocytes include compounds like neutrophils, dendritic, and macrophages, which work as a superpower to tackle foreign substances and intruders in their own ways.
These are the types of white blood cells responsible for eliminating the risks caused by pathogens. They directly attack and engulf the pathogens on recognition.
Cytokines have a crucial role in strengthening the immune system of the body. These cells act as a messenger and communicate with the other friendly cells to fight against the intruder's attack.
There are several Cytokines cell varieties, which come under the same category of bringing the immune cells to the point of invasion by amplifying signals.
Immune Functions and Sleep-Wake Cycle
The sleep-wake cycle is the biological rhythm associated with the 24 hours cycle. It includes the secretion of hormones, metabolism, regulation of body temperature, and sleep. Every human being or even animal responds to the biological clock.
The suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) regulates it, located in the hypothalamus. The environmental lights that enter the retina stimulate SCN. Low light directs the neurons to produce melatonin (melatonin impact on sleep). The increased production of melatonin is due to increased light. Excessive release of melatonin may be responsible for causing cancerous cells.
The sleep-wake cycle plays a significant role in regulating biological balances and power to the immune system. The immunity cells like T cells, B cells, and NK (natural killer) cells also work as per the biological clock present in them.
The sleep disorder or continued sleep breakage may stimulate the ill-functioning of these cells, and they may deactivate at the time of the intruder's attacks.
Sleep Deprivation and Diseases
Lack of sleep or sleep deprivation (how long should we sleep)causes visible health issues. It weakens the body's immune system, which later becomes a cause of breakage of the body's defence system.
A weak immune system invites various diseases and long-term illnesses to the body. Prolonged sleep deprivation also becomes a reason for common sleep disorders like sleep apnea and insomnia.
If you are a victim of a bad sleeping pattern, you may put yourself into some chronic physical health issues like:
- Heart Disease
- High Blood Pressure
- Heart Failure
- Heart Attack
- Irregular Heart Beat
The lack of sleep also becomes the reason for mental health issues like:
- Temporary Memory loss
- Temporary Mental Lapse
- Communication Trouble
- Lack of Concentration
How to Strengthen the Immune System?
Today's fast life is the main reason for sleep disorders. People find it difficult to put a balance between professional and personal life.
The increased workload and night shifts also cause sleep imbalance and disturb the biological clock, which ultimately becomes the reason for low immunity. So, how can you work on strengthening your immune system?
Change your habits, sleep environment, and daily bedtime routine. Start giving priority to the uninterrupted night's sleep. Think about the adverse effects an inadequate and interrupted sleep can cause and start giving it due importance.
The usage of mobile phones, television, or computers also deprives the brain of balanced sleep. The reason is that the rays from a cell phone or similar electronic devices signal the brain to keep awakening, which ultimately unnecessarily puts you in a wake-up position for late hours.
Following the sleep hygiene or sleep routine lets you have a good night's sleep and strengthen the immunity system. You can create an environment to get the best sleep. Use dim lights instead of focused lighting in the bedroom (bedroom temperature for better sleep) during sleep hours.
Make use of an orthopaedic mattress that boosts correct body posture, and you can enjoy happy sleep hours. Sometimes, reading good books before going under a blanket also helps increase good sleep.
Overall, if you want to have the best physical and mental health throughout your lifetime, it is essential to enhance the immune system, and good sleep plays a significant role in doing the same.