How Does Sleep Affect the Immune System


You probably don’t need us to tell you how important sleep can be for your overall health. But, did you know that getting a good amount of sleep can actually help boost your immune system? In this article, we will go over the importance of sleep and how getting a proper amount of sleep can lead to a happier, healthier life. 

What Happens to Your Immune System When You Sleep?

The importance of the role sleep plays on the human body can not be overstated. One of the many ways a healthy amount of sleep can help us stay healthy is by boosting the immune system. Research has pointed out the direct relationship between our bodies, our immune system, and sleep, with recent research showing that sleep can improve immune cells known as T cells. 

These T cells fight against intracellular pathogens such as the flu, HIV, herpes, and cancer cells. The more active and healthy these T cells are, the better chance your body has of warding off unwanted visitors. Sleep can also help the immune system in another way. The levels of adrenaline, noradrenaline, and prostaglandins are low during sleep time. This helps keep the stickiness of the integrins stronger. This stickiness is important because, in order for T cells to kill virus-infected cells or cancer cells, they need to get in direct contact with them, and the integrin stickiness is known to promote this contact.

What Happens to Your Immune System When You Don’t Sleep?

The effects of sleep deprivation extend well beyond us simply not feeling energetic the next morning. In fact, sleep loss can play a huge role in our ability to fight off serious health conditions. In fact, research has shown that those who are sleep deprived also get less protection from flu vaccines than those who are getting adequate sleep (1). 

However, it should be noted that how strong your immune system is will also play a role in how you are affected by a lack of sleep. If you have a strong immune system, it may take longer for you to get run down if you are not sleeping. Some people may be able to drink a cup of coffee from Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts and readjust. But if you have a weak immune system, you will likely be more prone to infection if you are not getting enough sleep.

Do Naps Help Your Immune System?

Who doesn’t love curling up on the couch during the day and taking a nice, long, relaxing, and rejuvenating nap? Naps, coupled with a healthy sleep schedule, can be great for your body and your mind. That part is important. Naps COUPLED WITH a healthy sleep schedule are good for your body. You shouldn’t regularly be using naps to make up for a lack of sleep during the night time. Here are some of the benefits of a 20-30 minute power nap:

  • Increased alertness - Studies have found that those who take naps for about 25 minutes show an increase in alertness over those who don’t
  • Better stamina - Power naps have been linked to better stamina and athletic performance
  • Reduced stress - Your body can react to stress better after a brief nap. They can also help moderate blood pressure, which is very important as you get older
  • Increased creativity - Taking regular power naps can help increase the amount of activity in the right brain, which is the part of the brain associated with creativity
  • Stronger immune system - Half-hour naps have been shown to boost the production of leukocytes, or white blood cells that help the immune system tackle infectious diseases. This is especially useful in winter when we’re more vulnerable to catching the common cold and other illnesses

While there are still benefits to taking longer, 60-90 minute naps, shorter power naps are more practical. Most people can find the time to squeeze in a short 20-minute nap somewhere in their day. On top of that, longer naps can make it difficult for us to fall asleep at night. 

How Much Sleep Do You Need for Your Immune System?

There is conflicting information regarding how much sleep you should get on a nightly basis. While you may hear entrepreneur influencers who talk about how little sleep they get so they can always be working, your body does need a healthy amount of sleep on a nightly basis. The amount of sleep your body needs will change the older you get. Here is how much sleep you need to help boost your immune system, depending on your age:

  • Newborn - Newborn babies should be getting anywhere between 14-17 hours of sleep per day
  • Infants - 12-16 hours of sleep per day
  • Toddlers - 11-14 hours of sleep per day
  • 3-5 years old - 10-13 hours of sleep per day
  • 6-12 years old - 9-12 hours of sleep per day
  • 13-18 years old - 8-10 hours of sleep per day
  • 18-60 years old - 7 or more hours of sleep per day
  • 61-64 years old - 7-9 hours of sleep per day
  • 65 years and older - 7-8 hours of sleep per day

Although the amount of sleep you get each day is important, other aspects of your sleep also contribute to your health and well-being. Good sleep quality is also essential. Signs of poor sleep quality include not feeling rested even after getting enough sleep, repeatedly waking up during the night, and experiencing symptoms of sleep disorders. Improving sleep quality may be helped by better sleep habits or being diagnosed and treated for any sleep disorder you may have.

What are the Effects of Lack of Sleep?

Other than affecting our body’s ability to fight off unwanted viruses and disease, lack of sleep can harm both our physical health and mental health in several different ways. Your doctors highly suggest you get a healthy amount of sleep for good reason. Here are some of the lack of sleep side effects:

  • Lack of alertness - Even missing out on an extra hour of sleep can impact how alert you are to your surroundings
  • Daytime sleepiness - A lack of sleep can lead to you being very sleepy and tired throughout the day, affecting your productiveness
  • Impaired memory - Our brains actually use sleep to store and process memories. Therefore, as you can imagine, a lack of sleep affects our ability to remember and process information
  • Relationship stress - Not sleeping can cause you to feel moody, which can lead to you having more conflicts with others
  • Quality of life - Being tired all the time is no way to live. Losing out of sleep can make day-to-day living more difficult. On top of that, you become less likely to participate in normal daily activities
  • Greater likelihood of car accidents - This ties into the lack of alertness. Drowsy driving accounts for thousands of crashes, injuries, and fatalities each year in the United States

If you continue to operate without enough sleep, you may see more long-term and serious health problems. Some of the most serious potential problems associated with chronic sleep deprivation are high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure, or stroke. Other potential problems include obesity, depression, impairment in immunity, and lower sex drive.

How Sleep Strengthens Your Immune System

Sleep has a positive impact on the correct functioning of T cells as part of the body’s immune response, and this is thanks to the fact that Gas-coupled receptor agonists are less active at this time. A healthy amount of sleep also helps the body in numerous different ways. Here are some of the benefits of getting a healthy amount of sleep:

  • Sleeping more can help prevent weight gain - If you don’t get enough sleep, your body produces ghrelin, a hormone that boosts appetite. Your body also decreases the production of leptin, a hormone that tells you you’re full
  • Sleep can strengthen your heart -  Not sleeping enough causes your body to release cortisol, which causes your heart to work harder
  • Better mood - If you sleep well you feel rested, which will help with your overall mood and wellbeing
  • Sleeping can increase productivity - Sleep has been linked to improved concentration and higher cognitive function, both of which can help you be successful at work
  • Sleep improves memory - As we mentioned earlier, your brain processes and stores memories during sleep. A lack of sleep can lead to these memories being lost or even fake memories being created

If you are having a difficult time falling asleep and staying asleep it may be due to a sleeping disorder. Consult with your doctor. There are treatment options that can make you sleep better, making your life better. 

Supplements Can Help

There are several processes our body uses to remove antigens. One of the protective systems involves our bodies producing macrophages, those macrophages engulf the antigen, and then the antigen is digested (destroyed) through a process of autophagy. Early studies show that spermidine triggers cellular autophagy, which can play a major role in helping to build more robust immune defense through healthier cells and increased autophagic strength and function.

The positive impacts of spermidine-induced autophagy and spermidine supplementation have been studied worldwide. In addition to boosting our immune system, spermidineLIFE® offers remarkable supplemental support for the health of our brain, heart, bones, muscles, weight, hair, liver, and overall longevity.



  1. Can Better Sleep Mean Catching Fewer Colds?
  • Don Moxley - Director of Applied Science

    Don Moxley is the Director of Applied Science at Longevity Labs. Moxley draws upon his career as an athlete, a sports scientist, and an instructor to lead and educate on the science of autophagy and longevity.