Staying Safe During a Pandemic by Sleeping.

Bad sleep puts you and your community at risk.

Taylor Miller
April 01, 2020
Taylor Miller
April 01, 2020

Written by Taylor Miller

An Important Key to Staying Healthy: Get More Sleep

Now that we all need our individual and collective immune systems functioning well, we must remember to get our sleep. Getting ample sleep has been well documented across many performance aspects of engineering.

Performance aside, this is especially critical during a pandemic where immune function is critical to saving our lives, economy, and overall sanity. Sleep is directly tied to immune response quality when exposed to antigens.

Sleep appears to preferentially promote the pro-inflammatory cytokine production important for the mounting of adaptive immune responses

Even a single night's sleep has a dramatic effect on the body's immune response to a new antigen:

How does sleep affect immunity during a genuinely ongoing immune response? There are quite a few studies that investigated the effects of sleep on the response to vaccinations used as an experimental model of infection. Intriguingly, these studies consistently demonstrate that sleep enhances the adaptive immune response against the invading antigen. Compared with subjects who stayed awake during the night after a single vaccination against hepatitis A in the morning before, subjects who regularly slept on this first night after vaccination, 4 weeks later, displayed a twofold increase in antigen-specific antibody titres 72. This study was the first to show in humans that a single night of normal sleep after vaccination strengthens the evolvement of a natural immune response against an invading antigen, to a clinically relevant extent.

It has even been found that sleep effects were still seen a year later after the initial exposure.

Importantly, these immuno-enhancing effects of sleep were still present at a 1-year follow-up, indicating that sleep in enhancing the initial formation of an adaptive immune response also supports the long-term maintenance of the antigenic memory, a function hallmarking the immune system.

This shows that not only is sleep key to immediate responses, it is also instrumental in immune memory, which is definitely something we want right now with the COVID-19 crisis.

Many of us are prone to burning the candle at both ends. Startup culture is especially prone to sacrificing things like sleep for a chance at changing the world. Prolonged periods of sleep deprivation has been shown to have broad impacts on immune system function.

Unlike short periods of sleep deprivation for a single night or less, prolonged periods of sleep loss or sleep restriction for several days represent a condition of profound stress that can be used to analyse the detrimental changes in health and immune function that occur under conditions of chronic sleep curtailment, a condition prevalent also in modern society.

Chronic sleep loss is not only associated with an increase in inflammatory markers but also with immunodeficiency. The immune response to vaccination against influenza virus was diminished after 6 days of restricted sleep 109. There is also evidence for an enhanced susceptibility to the common cold with poor sleep efficiency

Editorialized Rant

Yes, we still all want to change the world with our work. Yes, hard work works.


Now. Is. Different.

We are playing a long game against an enemy we can't see. Let's harness this singular opportunity to focus on the most important work we can be doing; Surviving this together. In the most healthy way possible, while keeping our livelihoods, communities, and economies intact.

To do this we must take care of ourselves first and then each other.


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