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Sleep Deprivation May Affect Body’s Immune System

A new study suggests that sleep deprived people may have lower immune responses.

July 2, 2012– A new study says that sleep deprivation can jolt the body’s immune system into action in a similar immediate way, as it does when exposed to physical stress. Dutch and British researchers compared the counts of white blood cells of 15 young, healthy men under both normal and sleep-deprived conditions.

Granulocytes white blood cells showed the greatest changes. They showed a day-night rhythmicity loss along with an increase in numbers, most often at night, said the report. Studies done previously, have tied sleep deprivation to conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity. While other studies showed that sleep helps to sustain the functioning of the body’s immune system and the immune system may be at risk of impairment due to chronic loss of sleep.

In the recent study, 15 men had their white blood cells measured following a strict sleep schedule of eight hours each night for an entire week. The men received a minimum of 15 minutes of light from the outdoors within the first hour and a half they were awake. The men also were prohibited from ingesting caffeine, medication or alcohol over the last three days of the study.

This was to stabilize their system to minimize the effect of sleep deprivation. Then following 29 straight hours of no sleep, blood samples were taken to check cell counts. The granulocytes immediately reacted to physical stress related to sleep loss.

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