An exhausted couple who is suffering from a lack of sleep.

How is a lack of sleep affecting your body’s ability to fight infection?

It’s important to take care of the immune system. After all, it’s function is to protect your body from infection and disease. If you have any unhealthy habits, you’re making the immune system’s job even harder. What people fail to realize is that a lack of sleep is one of those unhealthy habits. It causes the immune system to become weaker, inviting disease into your body. Scientists are now proving how a lack of sleep is making us sick.

What people fail to realize is that a lack of sleep is one of those unhealthy habits. It causes the immune system to become weaker, inviting disease into your body. Scientists are now proving how a lack of sleep is making us sick.

A Lack of Sleep and the Immune System

The study performed by the University of Washington has taken a unique approach. By testing 11 identical twins, they were able to find the answers they needed. Each twin had different sleep patterns and through blood samples, researchers were able to determine that the twin who slept less had a weaker immune system.

“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.

There is a special reason why Dr. Watson and his team used several groups of identical twins to help them in their study. Genetics, combine with environmental factors, determine how long we are able to sleep for. The twins’ similar genetic structure help them form a better control group and see how a lack of sleep affects the body in similar subjects.

While the immune system usually responds when the body has not received enough sleep, chronic short-term sleep may be different. If short-term sleep becomes a frequent occurrence, the immune system may not respond at all. Hopefully, this study will show more people the importance of maintaining sleep health. Without enough sleep, you leave yourself vulnerable to viruses and illness.