Immune System

Engage in Restful Sleep to Boost Your Immune System, Reveals Study


A recent study conducted by researchers at LMU Munich has shed light on the connection between sleep and the immune system. The study reveals that getting a good night’s sleep can enhance the migratory potential of T cells towards lymph nodes, thus stimulating the immune system.

It is widely known that sleep plays a crucial role in maintaining overall health, and scientific evidence now supports this claim. Previous studies have shown that individuals who sleep after receiving a vaccination exhibit a stronger immune response compared to those who stay awake post-vaccination. However, the cellular mechanisms underlying this phenomenon have not been extensively explored until now.

Led by Professor Luciana Besedovsky from the Institute of Medical Psychology, the research team found that sleep can boost the migratory capabilities of immune cells known as T cells towards lymph nodes. The findings of the study have been published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.

The researchers closely monitored the concentrations of different T cell subgroups in the blood of a group of healthy individuals over two 24-hour periods. In one scenario, the participants were allowed to sleep for eight hours at night, while in the other, they stayed awake but relaxed in bed. Blood samples were collected using a forearm catheter connected to a separate room, ensuring minimal disruption to the participants’ sleep.

Analysis of the blood samples revealed significant differences between the two experimental conditions. Professor Besedovsky remarks, “Our results indicate that sleep enhances the migratory potential of various T-cell subpopulations.”

The study also showed that sleep facilitates the directed movement of T cells towards a signaling protein called CCL19, which guides T cells with the corresponding receptor towards lymph nodes. Here, T cells are trained to mount immune responses by recognizing antigens, such as those present in vaccines.

Furthermore, experiments conducted by the researchers demonstrated that incubating T cells with blood plasma from sleeping individuals increased their migratory potential. This suggests that soluble factors present in the blood during sleep play a key role in mediating the effect of sleep on T cell migration.

Growth hormone and prolactin were identified as the critical factors influencing this migratory behavior, with their concentrations showing sleep-dependent changes in the plasma. Professor Besedovsky suggests that these hormones could potentially be used as adjuvants to enhance immune responses following vaccination, particularly in older individuals who tend to have lower hormone levels during sleep.

The study provides valuable insights into the relationship between sleep and immune responses, offering a better understanding of why sufficient sleep is essential for optimal immune function, particularly in the context of vaccinations. The findings also shed light on why vaccines may be less effective in older populations.

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