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Poor sleep decreases vaccine effectiveness, especially for men

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Whether it’s Covid-19, the flu, or a trip to another country, make sure you’ve got a long, restful night’s sleep before going to the doctor if you’re planning an appointment for a vaccination.

A new study shows that getting less than six hours of sleep the night before getting vaccinated can limit the body’s response to vaccines and reduce its defenses against viruses and bacteria.

Senior author Yves Van Cowter, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago School of Medicine, said in a statement, “Sufficient sleep not only amplifies vaccine protection, but may also extend its duration.

However, there was one peculiarity in the results of this study. The effect of sleep deprivation on immune responses to vaccines has been scientifically relevant only in men.

“Studies using objective measures of sleep deprivation, such as the Sleep Institute, found that the reduced ability to respond to vaccines was statistically significant, especially in men, but not in women. said co-author of the study, Dr. Michael Irwin. , Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the UCLA Geffen School of Medicine.

Why is male immunity affected while female immunity is not affected?

“There are known gender differences in immune responses to foreign antigens, such as viruses, and to self-antigens, such as autoimmune diseases,” said Professor of Neurology, Center for Circadian and Sleep Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School. said Phyllis Zee, Ph.D., director of Medicine.

“In general, women have stronger immune responses, including flu vaccines.” who did not participate in the study. “There is evidence that these differences reflect hormonal, genetic and environmental differences, and since these differences can change over a lifetime, these differences may be less pronounced in older adults. .”

Regardless of gender, consider delaying vaccination if you have fluctuations in your sleep-wake cycle, such as sleep deprivation, jet lag, or night shifts.Research Center.

“If I was in the business of vaccinating patients, I would ask if they had trouble sleeping, if they hadn’t slept the night before,” Irwin said. If so, please take a full rest before returning.”

Your body needs to go through four stages of sleep several times a night. In stages 1 and 2, our body begins to lose its rhythm. This prepares the body for a third stage of deep slow-wave sleep, where the body heals itself at the cellular level, repairs damage from the day’s exhaustion, and integrates memories into long-term storage.

Rapid eye movement sleep, also called REM sleep, is the final stage. Lack of REM sleep, which is also when you dream, can lead to memory problems, cognitive decline, heart and other chronic diseases, premature death.

Conversely, years of research We have found that sleep, especially the deepest, most therapeutic type of sleep, boosts the immune response.

Most adults need 7-8 hours of relatively uninterrupted sleep to get restorative sleep. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Getting less than six hours of sleep per night (which many people do, especially during busy weeks) can lead to many health problems.

new research, published on monday Current Biology performed a meta-analysis of existing studies on sleep and immune function following influenza A, hepatitis A, and hepatitis B vaccination.

Only studies that used self-reported sleep duration were analyzed and antibodies decreased in those who slept less than 6 hours, but the association between post-vaccination sleep deprivation and immunity is not scientifically significant. was.

However, when only studies that used objective measures, such as requiring visits to a sleep laboratory or using devices that could accurately track sleep, they found a ‘strong’ association, especially in men. Mr Irwin said.

One explanation for the difference between objective and self-reported research results is that people typically overestimate how much sleep they get each night.

The analysis found that those who slept less than six hours produced fewer antibodies than those who slept seven or more hours. affected.

It was not surprising, the statement said. less than 6. ”

Irwin said the study did not include an analysis of antibody responses to the Covid-19 vaccine.

“The way you stimulate your immune system is the same whether you’re using Covid-19 mRNA vaccines or influenza, hepatitis, typhoid, and pneumococcal vaccines,” Irwin said. “This is a prototypical antibody or vaccine response, which is why we believe it can be generalized to Covid.”

The team conducted an analysis that showed that when a person arrives for a Covid-19 vaccination without getting enough sleep, the antibody response to the vaccine is weakened by an amount equivalent to two months.

“Even if you’ve just been vaccinated, you’ve already lost two months of immunity, so to speak,” said Irwin. “If you have a poor immune response, you are less likely to be fully protected from Covid.”

More research is needed to detect the nuances of how sleep deprivation affects the immune system, Zee said. Still, the information supports current practice in her sleep clinic.

“I already tell my patients to get regular sleep to strengthen their immune system,” she said. Got it.”

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