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Sleep Helps Vaccines Work: Study

Sleeping Less Than 6 Hours Nightly Linked to Lower Immune Response, Researchers Find
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Sleep & Vaccines: Perspective

The new findings, which looked at people's natural sleep habits, are strengthened by previous studies in the lab finding similar results when people's sleep was manipulated, says Firdaus Dhabhar, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine.

He reviewed the study findings.

"It is an important demonstration of how the duration of sleep in the participants' natural environment is related to the strength of their antibody response following vaccination, which is an index of how well protected they might be if actually exposed to the pathogen," he says.

The question of how much sleep a person needs is not simple, he says. "Different people are likely to need different amounts of sleep. A good indicator may be whether or not you generally feel rested when you wake up.''

"It is probably OK if you don't get enough sleep on occasion," he says. "But it's important not to let that become a regular state of affairs."

The new study ties in with previous research, says Kate Edwards, PhD, a lecturer in exercise physiology at the University of Sydney. "This adds to previous work, which found that disrupting sleep after a vaccination had negative effects on the immune response," she says.

In her own research, Edwards has found a single bout of exercise can help the immune response to a vaccination.

Prather's research looked at sleep habits over time, not just around the vaccination, Edwards says. Even so, she says, "we would still recommend a good night of sleep after getting a vaccine, and combining that with exercise at the time of getting the jab might give even better chances of a good response."

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