How does sleep deprivation affect the immune system?




You may not be surprised to hear that many clinical and experimental studies have demonstrated that lifestyle can have a huge impact on suppressing the immune system[1]. Fortunately, the effects of lifestyle choices on your immune system can be attenuated if you make the necessary adjustments and start to adopt healthy lifestyle practices.


The advantages of a healthy lifestyle are most clearly seen when you view lifestyle practices and their effect on the bodies natural killer cell activity [2].


Lifestyle practices associated with higher natural killer cell activity include:

• Not smoking

• Increased intake of green vegetables

• Regular meals

• Proper body weight

• More than 7 hours of sleep per night

• Regular exercise

• A vegetarian diet [3]


Sleep is essential for a healthy immune system. You may recall how it feels to be in constant jet lag mode after burning the midnight oil one too many times or after watching that Netflix boxset series that you just had to finish watching, but swiftly regretted when you realised that its 4 am in the morning and you start work at 8 am! (Yes- we have all been there)


Sleep deprivation has consistently been shown to not only impair the immune function but also mood (hello grumpy, snappy and groggy without a cup of coffee). Paradoxically, the decline in your immune function and alterations in your defence system after sleep deprivation are followed by impaired mood and psychosocial functioning[4]. This may explain why you often feel low or experience a drop in your wellbeing when you’ve had inadequate sleep.





TIPS TO IMPROVE SLEEP

At Nature’s Physician Nutrition we always recommend that client’s adopt sleep hygiene practices to improve sleep quality. Some quick tips are:

  1. Use of lavender oil on your pillow or via a diffuser to improve sleep quality[5]

  2. Introducing a minimum of 30 minutes of daylight per/day into your routine to assist the pineal gland in sleep regulation[6] (Sloane, Figuerio and Cohen, 2008)

  3. Avoiding blue lights from screens and devices (i.e TV, computer, mobiles) for at least 1 hr before sleep as studies have shown that it may suppress melatonin production which is required for sleep (Wood et al, 2013)

  4. Avoiding social media use at least 1 hr before bed[7] (Hysing et al, 2015)

  5. You may also wish to switch off the internet router at night as there is some evidence to suggest electromagnetic fields may disrupt sleep (lewcsuk et al, 2014)


If you found any of the above information useful and would like to discuss additional nutritional and lifestyle recommendations contact us today for a free 15 min Discovery Call. You can also subscribe now to receive our free immune support recipe e-book and more free nutrition tips and advice (you can opt-out at any point).






[1] Campeau S, Day HE, Helmreich DL, et al. Principles of psychoneuroendocrinology. Psychiatr Clin North Am. 1998;21: 259-276 [2] Kusaka Y, Kondou H, Morimoto K. Healthy lifestyles are associated with higher natural killer cell activity. Prev Med. 1992;21:602-615.Nakachi K, Imai K. Environmental and physiological influences on human natural killer cell activity in relation to good health practices. Jpn J Cancer Res. 1992;83:789-805.Morimoto K, Takeshita T, Inoue-Sakurai C, et al. Lifestyles and mental health status are associated with natural killer cell and lymphokine-activated killer cell activities. Sci Total Environ. 2001;270:3-11. [3] Kusaka Y, Kondou H, Morimoto K. Healthy lifestyles are associated with higher natural killer cell activity. Prev Med. 1992;21:602-615.Nakachi K, Imai K. Environmental and physiological influences on human natural killer cell activity in relation to good health practices. Jpn J Cancer Res. 1992;83:789-805. Morimoto K, Takeshita T, Inoue-Sakurai C, et al. Lifestyles and mental health status are associated with natural killer cell and lymphokine-activated killer cell activities. Sci Total Environ. 2001;270:3-11. [4] Heiser P, Dickhaus B, Opper C, et al. Alterations of host defence system after sleep deprivation are followed by impaired mood and psychosocial functioning. World J Biol Psychiatry. 2001;2:89-94 [5] Lewczuk, B et al. 2014. Influence of electric, magnetic, and electromagnetic fields on the circadian system: current stage of knowledge. BioMed Research International 2014 [6] Sloane, P.D, Figueiro, M, Cohen, L. 2008. Light as therpahy for sleep disorders and depression in order adults. Clinics in Geriatric Medicine 16, 25-31. [7] Hysings, M, Pallesen, S, Stormark, K.M., Jakobsen, R, Lundervold, A.J.Sivertesen, B. 2015. Sleep and use of electronic devicer in adolescence: results from a large population based study. BMJ Open 5, e006748




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