Whoever suffers from insomnia, albeit every now and then, knows it: poor sleep can ruin the best of days and sleep quality can greatly affect a large share of our lives.
But not everyone knows that good quality sleep can bolster our immune system and its response to the many attacks on our organism. That, in a nutshell, is the result of a study conducted at Tübingen University (Germany), published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, which revealed the benefits of sleep in the immune cells’ ability to fight off infections.
Good sleep seems to have positive effects not only on humour but also on the immune system’s ability to counter infections. Here’s why: T-cells are white blood cells that are crucial for the body’s immune response. When T-cells recognise a specific target, such as a virus-infected cell, they activate sticky proteins known as integrins, which allow them to attach to their target and kill it.
The researchers found out that some hormones, such as adrenaline and noradrenaline, prevent T-cells from activating integrins. Knowing that the levels of adrenaline and prostaglandin fall when we sleep, experts compared the T-cells taken from two groups of healthy volunteers: the first group had normal sleep cycles, while the other group were wakeful subject, who stayed awake all night. T-cells taken from the former group showed significantly higher integrin-activation levels.
The study’s results, aside from stressing the beneficial effects of sleep and the negative effects of conditions with high adrenaline levels, such as stress, could stimulate new therapeutic strategies that enhance the T-cells’ ability to attach to their targets and provide useful information in terms of cancer immunotherapy.
Bottom line, one thing is certain: good sleep is a panacea.