Now this is likely to be a challenge for the sleep deprived American…I count myself as one of those!

As we are all looking for ways to not get the swine flu or a cold, many Americans stock up on their vitamin C, the new craze vitamin D and Echinacea. But heeding the age-old advice about catching up on sleep might be more important. Studies have demonstrated that poor sleep and susceptibility to colds and flu go hand in hand, and scientists think it could be a reflection of the role sleep plays in maintaining the body’s defenses.

Burning the candle at all ends?  Young babies?  Insomnia? All of those things can affect your sleep AND your immune system.
Burning the candle at all ends? Young babies? Insomnia? All of those things can affect your sleep AND your immune system.

The Archives of Internal Medicine recently published a study in which 153 men and women were followed for two weeks, keeping track of their quality and duration of sleep. Then, during a five-day period, they quarantined the subjects and exposed them to cold viruses. Those who slept an average of fewer than seven hours a night, it turned out, were three times as likely to get sick as those who averaged at least eight hours.

Oh my…. I am in trouble….

In Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, a study by Zager has shown that sleep deprivation also affects the immune system. In a 2007 study, rats were deprived of sleep for 24 hours. When compared with a control group, the sleep-deprived rats’ blood test indicated a 20% decrease in white blood cells, a significant change in the immune system. 

It is now possible to state, "Sleep loss impairs immune function.
It is now possible to state, "Sleep loss impairs immune function.

So it seems that sleep and immunity are closely linked. The net-net…want to avoid or minimize your chances of the flu this fall…go back to bed!  Now!

The Archives of Internal Medicine http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/169/1/62

Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, Zager, A., Andersen, M.L., Ruiz, F.S., Antunes, I.B., & Tufik, S. (2007). Effects of acute and chronic sleep loss on immune modulation of rats [Electronic version], 293, R504-R509. http://ajpregu.physiology.org/cgi/content/abstract/293/1/R504

New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/22/health/22real.html?em