Think back to the last cold or illness you experienced. Was it following a time when you weren't sleeping well? Shorter sleep - less than six hours a night - has been associated with an increased susceptibility to the common cold, according to research published in the journal SLEEP.1 You have probably experienced that biological connection for yourself.
Discover why sleep is so important for the immune system and how maintaining your sleep apnea treatment plays a role in your body's ability to fight off infections.
Why You Need Sleep for a Healthy Immune System
Lack of sleep can weaken your body's immune system, causing you be more susceptible to common cold infections.1 The relationship between the body's immune-endocrine system and sleep goes both ways, according to an article published in the Journal of Immunology Research.2
The brain’s mechanisms of sleep and the immune response are linked.2 During an infection, there are changes in the sleep-wake cycle because of the neurotransmitters active during an immune response. 2
If you've ever woken up from sleep unexpectedly when you're under the weather and had trouble falling back to sleep, you've experienced this impact first-hand.
How Sleep Quantity and Quality Impacts Immunity
Sleep is essential for strengthening the body's immune system, making sure it's operating at full capacity.2 Not getting enough sleep can leave your body susceptible to infections.
If you have untreated sleep apnea, you will probably experience poor sleep as a result. However, if you treat your sleep apnea by using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine you should be able to achieve a good night’s sleep. Quantity and quality sleep helps your immune system to operate optimally, giving you a better chance at fighting off any germy invaders.
According to study, findings published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, adults with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) who don’t use CPAP therapy are more likely to be hospitalized with influenza, despite having rate of influenza vaccination, compared to those who used CPAP adherently.3
1 Prather, Aric A et al. “Behaviorally Assessed Sleep and Susceptibility to the Common Cold.” Sleep vol. 38,9 1353-9. 1 Sep. 2015, doi:10.5665/sleep.4968
2 Elizabeth G. Ibarra-Coronado, Ana Ma. Pantaleón-Martínez, Javier Velazquéz-Moctezuma, Oscar Prospéro-García, Mónica Méndez-Díaz, Mayra Pérez-Tapia, Lenin Pavón, Jorge Morales-Montor, "The Bidirectional Relationship between Sleep and Immunity against Infections", Journal of Immunology Research, vol. 2015, Article ID 678164, 14 pages, 2015. https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/678164
3 Mok EM, Greenough G, Pollack CC. Untreated obstructive sleep apnea is associated with increased hospitalization from influenza infection. J Clin Sleep Med. 2020 Aug 11. doi: 10.5664/jcsm.8744. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 32780010.