A study helps to explain the reason why a lot of people get sick when they get too little sleep. The study shows that our immune system functions better when we get enough sleep and provides more evidence of how sleep impacts our health, and in particular our immune health. The recommended amount of sleep for optimal health is seven hours or more.
Researchers analyzed blood samples taken from identical twins that had different sleep patterns from one another. It was discovered that the shorter sleep duration twin had a suppressed immune system in comparison to her or his sibling. Because genetics account for 31% to 55% of sleep duration and behavior, researchers used identical twins to control for this large genetic sleep duration determinant.
According to the researchers, some existing data shows inflammatory markers can be increased and immune cells activated when sleep is curtailed for a limited time in a laboratory setting. There is however little existing data showing the effects of chronic short sleep duration under natural conditions. This study used “real world” conditions which showed that shorter sleep duration shuts down processes involved in the immune response of circulating white blood cells.
According to information provided by the CDC, people are sleeping approximately 1.5 to 2 hours less over the last 100 years, and about a third of the working population sleeps less than 6 hours per night.