Not sleeping enough CAN damage your immune system and make you ill, says study

Regularly staying up late, or having a disrupted sleep pattern, leaves us open to infection and illness, according to new research.

Our immune system is linked to our sleep cycle, and will be damaged if regular sleep patterns are disturbed.

Researchers have found that the circadian clock – the genetic mechanism which regulates our sleep – controls the level of a gene vital to our immune system.

Disrupted sleep: Everyone knows that a disrupted sleep pattern can lead to feelings of being run-down. But A Yale University study has linked a lack of sleep with a reduced immune system

Disrupted sleep: Everyone knows that a disrupted sleep pattern can lead to feelings of being run-down. But A Yale University study has linked a lack of sleep with a reduced immune system

Scientists from Yale University linked the gene TLR-9 to the cycle in mice.

When expressions of the gene were highest, it was able to respond best to bacteria and viruses.

Similarly, the mice responded better to infection and vaccinations.

Disruptions to the cycle can effect the
expression of the gene, making us more susceptible to illness, reports
journal Immunity.

Effects of jet lag: Long-haul flights and the disruption they have on sleeping patterns is one lifestyle choice identified in the report that can lower the immune system

Effects of jet lag: Long-haul flights and the disruption they have on sleeping patterns is one lifestyle choice identified in the report that can lower the immune system
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This not only suggests that lifestyle disruptions like long-haul air travel and jet lag may contribute directly to illness, it also suggests that there may be ideal times of the day to receive vaccinations.

Professor Erol Fikrig said: 'People intuitively know that when their sleep patterns are disturbed, they are more likely to get sick.

'It does appear that disruptions of the circadian clock influence our susceptibility to pathogens.'

He also suggested further study was needed into how noise and artificial light in intensive care units, which can disrupt sleep patterns, could be affecting patients.

He said: 'It will be important to investigate how these factors influence immune system response.'