Why Lack of Sleep Makes You Sick

By Sharon Moore on March 14, 2017

It is a known fact that not getting enough sleep makes us prone to illness. But a neurologist and sleep specialist at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

According to Nathaniel Watson, who headed the study, sleeping poorly can block specific genetic processes in the cells that make up your immune system, which is responsible for fighting off infections and disease. “Your immune system is not functioning the way it was meant to when you’re sleep deprived,” he said.

Watson notes that this is the first study to look at how lack of sleep affects the immune system’s DNA. “It’s further evidence of how important sleep is to human health and physiology,”

Just an hour of lost sleep can cause cellular damage

For the study, the researchers followed 11 pairs of identical twins. Looking at identical twins helped control for the fact that sleep needs vary by person, Watson explained. Genes account for about 50 percent of our sleep needs, meaning identical twins are the best-case scenario for getting a good comparison. The participants wore a sleep tracking device for one week. Readings from the sleep tracker revealed that one twin in each pair slept, on average, one hour less than the other.

At the end of the study, researchers took blood samples from the participants. Results showed that those who slept less had less active immune system than those who slept more.

“They had an underperforming immune system,” Watson said of the shorter sleepers, “which would put them at higher risk of getting sick.”

“Add risk of infection to the myriad reasons why sleep deprivation is bad for you,” he said ― a list that already includes such issues as reduced performance during the day, depression, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and irritability.

Source of this article:

This May Explain Why You Get Sick When You’re Overtired

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