Sleep length may affect how your body responds to vaccines, increasing your risk for illness. A study published in the August issue of the journal SLEEP found that people who had insufficient sleep were far more likely to be unprotected by a vaccine.
The study involved a sample of 125 healthy people between the ages of 40 and 60. Each subject received a three-dose hepatitis B vaccine over a six month period. Researchers measured the antibody response levels before the second and third vaccination, and six months after the final injection. During that time span, each of the participants kept a sleep diary and many of wore electronic sleep monitors as they slept.
Participants who slept fewer than six hours per night were more 11.5 times more likely to be unprotected by the hepatitis B vaccine compared to people who slept more than seven hours. The researchers found that sleep length, but not sleep quality, affected response to the vaccine.
This study adds to a growing body of research that suggests that quality of sleep has a considerable impact on your immune system. Last month, researchers in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom found that healthy young men in severely sleep-deprived circumstances had compromised blood cell counts.
Insufficient sleep is also linked to obesity, diabetes and reduced workplace productivity. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that healthy adults get 7-8 hours of sleep per night.