Affecting the Immune System

Sleep Enhances the Immune Cells

In 2007, researchers investigated the effect of sleep on the number and function of key immune regulatory cells (monocytes and other myeloid and plasmacytoid dendritic cells), and circulating immune signaling factors (cytokines).

They found that sleep dramatically enhances the activity and effectiveness of immune cells and that without sleep there is a loss of adaptive immune responses that are necessary to fight off infection.

Reduced Sleep Increases Risk

Not only may reduced sleep increase your risk for infectious diseases, but it may also result in inappropriate inflammatory responses associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and increased mortality.

Restoring Sleep is a Preventative

Since 2006, investigators demonstrated that partial sleep loss causes an inappropriate ramping up of cellular and circulating pro-inflammatory cytokines. Using genomic markers of inflammation, investigators demonstrated that a 4-hour reduction in sleep time results in sustained activation of inflammatory pathways. These same pathways are now targets for medical therapy in many conditions including atherosclerosis, diabetes, arthritis, and even cancer. The authors suggested that restoring sleep is an important preventative measure and critical component of medical therapy. These findings are underlined by a number of studies, including one reported in the January 2008 volume of the FusionHealth® Sleep Medicine Bulletin, demonstrating that adequate sleep is associated with a decreased mortality risk in the general population.

Sleep Disorders can be the Root Cause

If you or some one you know is suffering from the flu, a nagging cold, or any of the diseases noted above, it is important to identify correctable causes for decreased sleep quality and quantity. Snoring, restlessness, frequent bathroom breaks, and insomnia are just a few of the many symptoms associated with sleep disorders that can be the root cause for feeling sick and tired.


  • Benedict C, et al., Sleep enhances serum interlukin-7 concentrations in humans. Brain Behav Immunology, 2007 Nov;21(8):1058-62.
  • Dimitrov S, et al., Number and function of circulating human antigen presenting cells regulated by sleep. Sleep, 2007 Apr;30(4):401-11.
  • Irwin MR, et al., Sleep deprivation and activation of morning levels of cellular and genomic markers of inflammation. Arch Internal Med, 2006 Sept;166:1756-62.