Researchers find it helps to sleep off a cold

February 15, 2019

Old advices for colds often involve sleep, and this may be true.  A good rest is said to impact immune responses – to internally fight germs and infections.

Researcher Stoyan Dimitrov of the University of Tubingen, Germany advises proper sleep to help the immune system fight off a cold; Dimitrov’s team have recently found out that sleep improves the activity of certain immune cells which battle infections, notably that of the T-cells.

The T-cells activate integrin, a sticky protein that adheres to an infected cell, thus destroying it.The German researchers studied cells from volunteers infected with cytomegalovirus (CMV), who already had antigen-specific T-cells against the virus.When patients’ T-cells were mixed with suspect hormones in test tubes, the T-cells’ ability to activate the sticky proteins dropped. The researchers believed that lack of sleep and prolonged stress lead to higher levels of these hormones,such as epinephrine, that might hinder the activation of integrin.

The levels of these hormones naturally decrease during sleep, so upon comparing T-cells collected on slumber-filled nights to those from sleepless nights, the researchers found that the levels of stress hormones were lower when volunteers were asleep than when awake. This meant the T-cells from sleeping nights had more infection-fighting integrin and were more potent, thus having better chances to fight viruses.

Dr. Louis De Palo, a professor of medicine, pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine, New York City postulates that people who do not get quality or sufficient sleep are more likely to get sick easily, and the new study presents further immune-supportive effects of sleep.

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Category: Education, Features

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