Vaccines and Sleep

If you don’t get enough sleep, it can affect your health. In fact, according to one study, it can make vaccines you take less effective. Sleeping less than six hours a night can decrease your level of protection by a potentially substantial amount.

That’s the conclusion of a look at vaccinations and sleep deprivation at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of California at San Francisco. A similar study in Germany in 2003 had shown the same result.

The German researchers found that people who got too little sleep the night after receiving a vaccination had half the protection as subjects who got a full night’s sleep. The researchers speculated that sleep helps the body devote resources to the formation of antibodies stimulated by the vaccine.

The UCSF study, designed to help doctors understand the connection between poor sleep and heightened susceptibility to upper respiratory infections, was the first look at the phenomenon in the real world rather than in a sleep lab. Participants kept sleep diaries or used monitoring devices to allow researchers to measure their amounts of sleep.

The study found the patients who did not sleep enough were 11 and a half times more likely to be unprotected. Eighteen participants, most of whom were sleep-deprived, did not receive adequate protection from the vaccinations given. Sleep deprivation means getting less than 6 hours a night.

“With the emergence of our 24-hour lifestyle, longer working hours, and the rise in the use of technology, chronic sleep deprivation has become a way of life for many Americans,” lead researcher Aric Prather said in a statement. “These findings should help raise awareness in the public health community about the clear connection between sleep and health,”

Prather recommended that doctors issuing immunizations discuss proper sleep habits with their patients. That way, they can help assure maximum effectiveness.

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