According to a new study, your body’s immune system reacts to sleep deprivation in the same way that it reacts to physical stress; it goes into overdrive.
In the study, researchers compared the white blood cell count of subjects before and after they were subjected to sleep deprivation. The number of white blood cells increased in every case in the study. The white blood cells in the sleep deprived subjects had lost their sense of day-night “rhythm” and therefore reproduced more and worked harder.
The subjects were simply asked to make sure that they were getting at least eight hours of sleep, as well as to stay away from alcohol, caffeine, and medications for a while before the study. They were then kept awake for a 29-hour period and observed. Blood samples were taken from each of the subjects and observed.
“The granulocytes reacted immediately to the physical stress of sleep loss and directly mirrored the body’s stress response,” said Katrin Ackermann, researcher at the Eramus MC University Medical Center Rotterdam in the Netherlands and lead author of the study.
“Future research will reveal the molecular mechanisms behind this immediate stress response and elucidate its role in the development of diseases associated with chronic sleep loss,” said Katrin Ackermann. “If confirmed with more data, this will have implications for clinical practice and for professions associated with long-term sleep loss, such as rotating shift work.”
Other studies have drawn connections between sleep deprivation and other diseases like obesity, diabetes, and hypertension, and even the Center for Disease Control has stated that around one-third of working American adults are sleep-deprived.
As far as knowing if you are getting enough sleep, the University of Maryland Medical Center has this to say:
“There is, in fact, a wide range of sleep time that is considered “normal.” While the average normal amount of sleep is around 7.5 hours per night, there are some people who do just fine on 5 hours per night, and some who require as much as 9 hours per night. The key is to find the right amount for you. The best way to tell is by seeing how you function during the day.”
So if you’re not getting enough sleep and are feeling stressed, do yourself a favor and start getting more by following these tips.
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