Sleep Care

Vaccines & Sleep

With winter rearing its head right around the corner, it’s that time of year again; flu season. The most effective way to fight off the flu infection is through vaccination. For more than two centuries people all over the world have reaped the benefits and protection of vaccinations. Since the first documented vaccination by Edward Jenner in the 1790s to help fight off small pox many positive strides and a few stumbles have come along the way. Vaccinations are one of the most cost-effective and successful prevention of disease and death. Today, people tend to forget about the viral disease Polio for example. Polio causes paralysis to the body and enters through the mouth and nose. In the early 1800s through the mid-1900s Polio was a worldwide epidemic. With the development of successful polio vaccination in 1955 numbers of polio cases drastically were reduced to only a handful of cases. According to the website, The History of Vaccines, due to widespread vaccination polio was eliminated from the Western Hemisphere in 1994. Properly receiving vaccinations are important for all ages but even more so with infants and senior citizens. With developing and/or weakening immune systems, proper vaccinations remain the best way to build up a healthy immune system and fight off disease.

Recently it has been found poor sleep actively has the ability to hinder the strength of vaccinations making an individual much more susceptible to serious infections such as the flu even after being vaccinated. Flu vaccinations are available through a nasal spray or shot and help build antibodies that protect an individual from the flu in the body. The belief that poor sleep can hamper the results of vaccinations in the body has recently been proven true through data by a recent study conducted by the University of California at Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of Pittsburgh together and the results are alarming.

125 different adults between the ages of 40 and 60 had their sleep patterns tracked through the standard three shot process for an effective hepatitis B vaccination. The first two vaccinations are given thirty days apart and the final injection 6 months after the first vaccination. Through this time span the participants kept sleep journals reporting how each individual felt the quality of sleep was, amount of sleep achieved each night, and also wore wrist monitors to track total sleep time. The researchers then drew blood tests after each vaccination including 6 months after the final vaccination in the series. The discoveries were amazing; researchers found that 15% of the participants were not experiencing the levels of protection needed to fight off Hepatitis B 6 months after finishing the series of vaccinations. Those of the study group who slept for fewer than 6 hours a night increased their odds of being in this group by almost 12 times compared to the individuals who slept at least 7 hours per night.

This study is both very interesting because it is the first of its kinds to base such data off of strictly sleep quantity on its own rather than sleep quality which needs to be completed through a lab, and alarming with the increased danger of the seasonal flu and other dangerous seasonal infection epidemics. One of the study authors, Aric Prather, stated “Based on our findings and laboratory evidence, physicians and other health professionals who are administering vaccines may want to consider asking their patients about their sleep patterns first, since a lack of sleep may affect the efficacy of the vaccine.” Simply stopping by your nearest clinic or doctor’s office to have the vaccination is no longer sufficient to prevent and protect yourself against these infections. It is just as important to have a regular and healthy sleep schedule to keep your immune system in tiptop shape. According to the National Sleep Foundation adults should get seven to nine hours of sleep per night although this number varies and there is no “magic number”.

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