Do sleep problems increase your chances of getting sick? Yes, lack of sleep can affect your immune system. Research shows that people who don’t get enough sleep are more vulnerable to exposure to a virus, such as the common cold. Lack of sleep can also affect how quickly you recover if you get sick.
During sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines. These substances are essential for fighting infection, inflammation and stress. An increase in cytokines occurs during deep sleep. In addition, other protective resources of the body are depleted during periods of sleep deprivation. So your body needs sleep to fight infectious diseases.
How many hours of sleep do you need to support your immune system? The optimal amount of sleep for most adults is seven to eight hours per night. Schoolchildren and teenagers need nine or more hours of sleep per night.
But be careful, excessive sleep is not always beneficial. For adults sleeping more than nine or ten, this is fraught with weight gain, heart problems, stroke, sleep disturbances, depression and other health problems.