If you want to give your body a better chance at fighting colds, cases of flu, and other infections, you might want to start making sure you’re getting enough sleep.
A new study shows that good sleep could boost your immune system.
The study found that sleep can influence the environment where white blood cells called monocytes form, develop, and get ready to fight against infection. Researchers learned that good sleep both regulates the main actors of inflammation and reduces the burden caused by inflammation.
It should be noted that the results came from a very small sample size.
Researchers looked at 14 adults for their clinical trial. Each was assigned to get either 7.5 or 6 hours of sleep each night for six weeks. They then had a “wash out” period to get back to normal sleep patterns before being assigned to the opposite schedule for another six weeks.
In the fifth and sixth weeks of the study, morning and afternoon blood samples were taken to assess monocyte presence.
The people who did not get enough sleep – the six-hour group – had higher levels of monocytes circulating in the afternoon, higher numbers of immune stem cells in the blood, and more evidence of immune activation. Simply, that means it appeared that the immune system was active and fighting inflammation.
When there is less evidence of immune actors in blood samples, like what was found in those getting more sleep, it means that there is not as much inflammation going on.
The changes they noticed are not permanent. However, if you’re continually getting bad sleep, then inflammation is likely to occur continually, leaving you susceptible to infection and other severe conditions like heart disease.
Shooting for 7-8, and in some cases 9 hours of sleep per night may help negate this occurrence and help you boost immunity.