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Sleep deprivation has an adverse effect on immune function, and chronic sleep loss can increase your vulnerability to infectious diseases.

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What does poor sleep do to my immune system?

Reduces your cytokine protein production, hindering an immune response

During sleep, your body produces and releases cytokines, a protein that targets infection and creates an immune response. Without sleep, you produce fewer of these proteins and you don’t give your body enough time to utilize any cytokines once an infection is present, essentially hindering your own body’s ability to fight infection.

Increases stress hormone levels, which can suppress your immune system

A high influx of stress hormones decreases your body’s white blood cell count, which is crucial for fighting off infection, and long-term sleep loss increases inflammation, putting more stress on your immune system.

Sick people that are sleep deprived feel worse

While sleep alone cannot prevent you from getting sick, a sleep deprived person is more likely to struggle with illness and experience harsher symptoms and a longer recovery time. Getting high quality sleep each night will help ensure you are better prepared to fight off infection and bounce back quicker from any illness that does arise.

How can I help my immune system right now?

First and foremost: ALWAYS practice smart hygiene

Smart hygiene practices go a long way for individual and public health.

  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Don't touch your face
  • Keep at least 3 ft between you and other people
  • Stay home if you're feeling unwell
  • Disinfect commonly touched surfaces
  • See a doctor for proper medical attention

Practice mindfulness to reduce stress, and aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night 

When sickness is going around it’s hard to stay calm, but it’s even more important now than ever. Take 5-10 minutes each day to stop and practice deep breathing prior to climbing into bed 7-9 hours before you need to wake up the next day.