How Does Your Sleeping Routine Influence Your Immune System?

Woman lying in bed, blowing her nose because she's sick

Within the last few years, the value of a strong immune system has been promoted by health experts. According to some experts of sleep science, sleep has a solid influence on a person’s overall health, including strengthening the immune system.

Is sleep valuable to the immune system? Will lack of sleep throw off the immune system? Keep on reading to find out.


How Does Sleep Affect Your Immunity?

Have you ever been sick with a cold or flu, and then slept through half of it? The immune system attacks the virus as it goes through your body, so sleeping through a cold can be beneficial.

Sleep is necessary to maintain your immune system’s health. When you sleep, your immune system can work to recognize and help fight off harmful infections. You don’t even have to sleep for long periods of time to get the benefits of your immune system working.

During sleep, the immune system works to create memory cells that are important in fighting infections. These memory cells can attack the same invader repeatedly.

When the immune system is stronger, you’re less likely to catch icky colds and the flu (and yes, COVID-19). The more you sleep, the stronger your immune system becomes.


Sleep and Innate Immunity

The immune system has two parts: innate immunity and adaptive immunity. Innate immunity is the part of your immune system that is always at work, trying to protect you from germs.

For example, innate immunity is what fights off the common cold. It works to clear mucus from your lungs, and also helps to kill off germs when you have a cough or a sore throat. The innate immune system also works to defend you against parasitic infections.

When you are sleeping, your body is working to build new cells in your immune system. This strengthens the innate immune system. Sleeping also allows your body to naturally develop the memory cells of your adaptive immune system.


Sleep and Adaptive Immunity

Adaptive immunity is the part of your immune system that is unique to you. When may the adaptive immune system learn to recognize the harmful invaders in your body?

When you have been exposed to an invader, your immune system will ‘remember’ the invader, so that the next time it encounters it, your immune system will recognize and attack it.

When you sleep, you have an opportunity for your immune system to develop those memory cells it needs to fight the harmful bacteria, viruses, and other invaders that are trying to come into your body.

Additionally, when you are asleep, your immune system can continue replace dead and dying cells with new, strong ones.


Sleep and Vaccination

Most vaccines work by introducing a weakened or dead version of a virus into your body. Then when you are exposed to the live virus, your immune system will be able to recognize it and respond. When you are exposed to the real virus later your immune system will get a second chance to recognize and kill off the virus that is trying to attack your body. Without proper sleep this system does not complete, and those memory cells do not get created. Then when you are exposed to a live virus, your immune system must scramble to figure out what it is.


Final Thoughts

When your immune system is stronger, you’re less likely to get sick. You’ll recover from illnesses more quickly, and you’ll be able to fight off infections that your immune system might not have been able to fight against. By sleeping, your immune system is able to work to strengthen your body. It is able to build up its memory cells, which strengthen the adaptive immune system, and it is able to create new cells for the innate immune system.

If you want to learn more about sleep or need help with insomnia and other sleep disorders, you should check out Sleep Better Live Better. We offer sleep solutions in North Vancouver by assigning you to a sleep doctor who will help you find the right therapy approach for you. Book a consultation today for more information.