In the last week or two, we’ve seen a steady stream of new studies illustrating how poor sleep can harm our health. The latest of these indicates that vaccines, the shots that keep us from getting various illnesses, may not work as well when the patient hasn’t had enough rest.
The study is the first performed outside a sleep laboratory to show that sleep duration is directly tied to vaccine immune response. Conducted at the University of California in San Francisco, the researchers investigated the antibody response to hepatitis B vaccinations. Antibody levels were measured prior to the second and third vaccine injection and six months after the final vaccination to determine whether participants had mounted a “clinically protective response.”
All the participants completed sleep diaries detailing their bedtime, wake time and sleep quality, while 88 subjects also wore electronic sleep monitors known as actigraphs. The researchers found that people who slept fewer than six hours on average per night were far less likely to mount antibody responses to the vaccine and thus were far more likely (11.5 times) to be unprotected by the vaccine than people who slept more than seven hours on average.
The study will appear in the August issue of the journal SLEEP.