Healthy sleep is essential to a strong immune system. As COVID-19 vaccines are distributed, it’s important that people continue to get sufficient sleep for the best immune response.

Sleep loss is linked to changes in several immune processes. Poor sleep may weaken your defenses against a virus. It may affect how your body responds to a vaccine, increasing your risk for illness. For this reason, sleep deprivation during a global pandemic is especially risky.

“As COVID-19 vaccines are being distributed, it is of utmost importance that patients continue to prioritize their sleep to maintain optimal health,” said American Academy of Sleep Medicine President Dr. Kannan Ramar. “Getting sufficient, high-quality sleep on a regular basis strengthens your body’s immune system and optimizes your response to a vaccine.”

There is extensive evidence of the link between sleep and immunity. Several studies have found a relationship between sleep duration and vaccination response. A 2020 study found that the flu vaccine appears to be more effective in people who get enough sleep for the two nights before receiving the shot. Other studies have made similar findings evaluating patients’ response to vaccines for hepatitis A and hepatitis B.

When we sleep, our body recovers from the day. It works to repair muscles, organs and cells. Hormones are regulated that support our metabolism, immune response and other key functions. Our brain sorts and stores new information and prepares us mentally for the next day by regulating our mood.

For many though, the pandemic has negatively impacted sleep. One third (33%) of respondents to an AASM survey have experienced an impact to sleep quality, 30% have seen change in their ability to fall asleep, and 29% noted an impact to nightly amount of sleep. While it’s easy for stress and scheduling conflicts to interrupt nightly sleep, the AASM recommends that most adults should be sleeping at least 7 hours each night.

Follow these tips to get a better night’s sleep.

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