Not sleeping enough CAN damage your immune system and make you ill, says study
A disturbed sleeping pattern can lead to illness, scientists say.
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.
Scientists from Yale University linked the gene TLR-9 to the cycle in mice. When the gene was at its most active, it was able to respond best to bacteria and viruses and the mice responded better to infection and vaccinations.
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
In theory, the principles should also apply for the same gene in humans.
Disruptions to the cycle can make us more susceptible to illness, reports journal Immunity.
This suggests that jet lag may
contribute directly to illness and 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.’
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
He also suggested further study was
needed into how noise and artificial light in intensive care units could
be affecting patients.
He said: ‘Sleep patterns of patients
in intensive care are often disrupted because of the noise and prolonged
exposure to artificial light.
‘It will be important to investigate how these factors influence immune system response.’