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Sleep tight, build up immunity to keep COVID-19 at bay: Experts on battling pandemic

By not getting adequate sleep, experts state that chances of developing viral infections like common cold, influenza are high, and this could lead to a higher risk of Covid-19. 

Published: 21st October 2020 07:29 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st October 2020 11:36 AM   |  A+A-

An artist busy painting on walls over theme of COVID-19 in Bhubaneswar

An artist busy painting on walls over theme of COVID-19. (File photo| Biswanath Swain, EPS)

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Binge-watching and battling insomnia? Beware viral infections. Getting seven to eight hours of sleep a day is considered ideal for the body to function optimally, and sleep deprivation could result in catching common cold, influenza, pneumonia and other respiratory infections.

By not getting adequate sleep, experts state that chances of developing viral infections like common cold, influenza are high, and this could lead to a higher risk of Covid-19. 

Experts say, during sleep, the immune system releases proteins called cytokines, which help promote sleep, but sleep deprivation might decrease production of the protective cytokines, which are crucial in protecting the body from infections. 

“Lack of sleep can increase susceptibility to infections and also render our body relatively immunodeficient to fight viral infections, especially Covid-19. Experimental studies on humans have shown acute sleep deprivation blunts the immune response to flu antigen, thus the production of antibodies, emphasizing the significance of sleep and its important role in immune function,” said Dr Srikanta JT, consultant, Paediatric Pulmonology and Sleep Medicine, Aster CMI Hospital.

Dr Shantanu Tandon, Sleep Apnea specialist, Sakra World Hospital, stated that there is definite proof that when one sleeps, certain cells called NK cells (Natural killer cells) are formed.

“These cells help kill viruses and even precancerous or cancerous cells. When we lose sleep, a deficiency of these NK cells can make us more prone to viral infections and pneumonia. This will have a direct correlation with susceptibility to Covid and when we sleep less, there is decreased formation of antibodies.”

Experts stated that with individuals who have lack of sleep, the vaccines given to them have lower efficacy.

“Sleep deprivation prior to influenza vaccination has been shown to decrease the efficacy of the vaccine. This would go with decreased immunity caused by sleep deprivation, as the vaccine effect from the body is immunity to the vaccination. Though not formally studied, it would be easy to extrapolate that sleep deprivation would increase the chances of developing Covid. This would also likely extend to the effect on any future corona vaccine,” said Dr Vivekanand Padegal, Director, Pulmonology, Fortis Hospital.



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