Sleep and all that happens in the world of sleep have significant effects on our mind, body, and health. However, in the whirlwind of modern existence, we often cut corners on sleep.
In a recent study, researchers studied the profound impact of sleep on the effectiveness of vaccines. Understanding that vaccination is a critical strategy for controlling the pandemic of COVID-19, the researchers looked at how sleep, as a behavioral intervention, can boost vaccine response.
The researchers first screened and selected studies for their meta-analysis. They then found a consistent pattern: insufficient sleep duration of <6h, for 7 days around inoculation is significantly associated with a weakened antibody response to vaccination. Vaccines in the study included hepatitis A, hepatitis B, influenza A H1N1 and H3H2, and the effect size was positive, indicating that short sleep is associated with a lower level of antibodies or reduced protection status. These findings underscore the critical role that sleep plays in the choreography of our immune system.
Furthermore, the researchers explored how variations in sex hormone levels can affect the association. In the study “Acute sleep deprivation has no lasting effects on the human antibody titer response following a novel influenza A H1N1 virus vaccination” by Benedict et al., 2012, the association between short sleep periods and a decrease in antibody response was significantly significant. However, the association between insufficient sleep duration and weakened response to vaccination did not reach significance for women. Moreover, through forest plots of multiple studies, the effect size for men was determined to be 0.93 [0.54, 1.33]. On the other hand, the effect size for women is smaller, at 0.42 [-0.49, 1.32].
While the study calls for further research on the disparity between sex in the impact of sleep on our immune response – large-scale, well-controlled studies are urgently needed to define the window of time around vaccination when optimizing sleep duration is the most beneficial. In addition, the question remains, “how much sleep is enough sleep?”. While the National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 h of sleep for healthy adults and 7 to 8 h for adults over 65, the exact sleep duration for effective antibody response needs further study.
Overall, the study highlights the importance of adequate sleep for optimal vaccine effectiveness as we face ongoing concerns over Covid and new threats of flu strains. Moreover, sleep profoundly impacts our overall health, and habits must be prioritized for better health outcomes.
By: Helena Zhang, BS
- Spiegel, K., et al. (2023) A meta-analysis of the associations between insufficient sleep duration and antibody response to vaccination. Current Biology. doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2023.02.017.