The immune system is your body’s defense against colds and viruses. To compromise it is to compromise your health and resistance to colds and flu’s. The relationship between sleep and immunity is strong enough to require our attention. The power of adequate sleep is underestimated. See today’s article excerpt for more relating to this topic.

One way that sleep affects the immune system was recently noted: A test showed that when a person does not get enough rest, the immune system answers with an inflammatory response. This rise in inflammation can be harmful, especially when it is chronic. Heart disease, for example, is known to have inflammation as a trigger. Scientists therefore wanted to isolate the reasons for this response due to a lack of sleep.

Another study examined the immune system’s activity in a group of healthy individuals after a week of poor sleep. They then looked at those who had slept well for the week. What researchers found was that there was more immune system activity in those who did not have enough sleep. This may sound like a good thing, but it really isn’t: The activity triggered more allergies and asthma than in those with good amounts of sleep. Asthma is already known to be aggravated by lack of sleep and this study helped to explain why. Other immune activity that was seen was an increase in inflammation.

Sleep patterns have also been observed over longer periods of time. What was found was that not only does sleep affect the brain, but it affects our metabolism and immune systems as well. The longer a person goes without adequate sleep, the more at risk they are for other chronic diseases. Scientists and other medical professionals worry about some of these risks. Cardiac disease, particularly when it involves the blood vessels, is a major risk. The immune system’s inflammation response makes one vulnerable to this. Type 2 diabetes is another disorder that can be traced to chronic inflammation.

Source: “Think Sleep Deprivation Won’t Affect Your Immune System? Think Again.” By Eric Cohen.