Due to a fast-paced world, most of us take sleep for granted because of our demanding schedule. It's common for us to place sleep as the least in our priority list. However, not many of us know its importance and its impact to our life and health.
A study published in the journal Sleep, shows that chronic lack of sleep may suppress our immune system. Thus, making us more vulnerable to diseases.
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For the study, researchers gathered blood samples from 11 pairs of identical twins with different sleep patterns. Results showed that the twin with shorter sleep duration had a depressed immune system, compared with his or her sibling.
"What we show is that the immune system functions best when it gets enough sleep. Seven or more hours of sleep is recommended for optimal health," said lead author Dr. Nathaniel Watson, co-director of the UW Medicine Sleep Center at Harborview Medical Center in a statement.
Researchers used twins as participants because genetics account for 31 to 55 percent of sleep duration and behavior and environment account for the remainder, experts say.
Dr. Sina Gharib said that sleep deprivation can increase inflammatory markers and activate immune cells. Dr. Gharib is director of UW Medicine's Computational Medicine Core at the Center for Lung Biology, and the senior author of the study.
"The results are consistent with studies that show when sleep deprived people are given a vaccine, there is a lower antibody response and if you expose sleep deprived people to a rhinovirus they are more likely to get the virus," Watson said in an interview
. "This study provides further evidence of sleep to overall health and well-being particularly to immune health."