Give it a rest
To ensure vaccines work properly, get a good night’s sleep.
Vaccines get all the glory, but it is really the immune system that does the heavy lifting.
Indeed, those with weak immune systems often benefit little from vaccines.
Aware of this, researchers have long thought that people deprived of sleep
also ought to benefit less from vaccines, as sleeping less is thought to reduce immune function.
A new analysis reveals that this is clearly the case—though only in men.
The immune system is metabolically expensive for the body to operate.
When resources run low, it cannot function as well as it might when well supported.
This is why people who are profoundly cold for long periods of time tend to fall ill—
their bodies are burning calories to stay warm that might otherwise have been used to fuel their defence.
The immune system is similarly hamstrung by a lack of sleep since a number of its key components,
such as the white blood cells that produce antibodies, are predominantly made by the body when a person is slumbering.
Yet it has remained unclear whether poor sleep at a time of vaccination leads to reduced immune benefits.
Vaccines work by presenting the immune system with the foreign material of a pathogen.
The system reacts by making antibodies, though these do not last for ever—
they circulate in great numbers shortly after a real or vaccine-induced invasion
but their population wanes over time.
Eventually, another shot of vaccine is needed to boost the antibody count.