Sleep may be the best drug: a new study, published yesterday, confirms that sleep improves the ability of some of the immune cells of the body, which allows, for example, to fight infections and not get sick.
The findings made by researchers from U. de Tubinga in Germany complement all available scientific evidence that shows the benefits of good sleep, such as consolidating memory, learning and growing children, as well as fighting obesity and maintaining stress, hypertension and diabetes, among others.
As sleep helps to consolidate what has been learned during the day, the immune system also has memory and owes its effectiveness to the existence of cells that are specialized in storing information about pathogenic microorganisms that have come into contact with the body to fight them . effective in the future.
So-called T-cells of memory occur during a deep sleep and can live for months or years.
In the work led by doctors Stoyan Dimitrov and Luciana Besedovski, the authors find that bad sleep increases the presence of hormones such as adrenaline and noradrenaline, as well as other molecules that reduce the functionality of T cells.
"Our results show that sleep has the potential to improve the effectiveness of T-cell responses, which is particularly important in view of the high incidence of problems and conditions associated with sleep disorders such as depression, chronic stress, aging and shift work" , explains Dr. Lucyana Besedovski.
For this reason, stresses the researcher, no one doubts that bad sleep puts health at risk.
"The sleeping hours that correspond (seven to nine hours per night for adults) stimulate the body's immunological memory, making us more resistant to bacterial attacks and even the development of cancer," says Dr. Evelyn Benavides. , neurologist at the U. de los Andes clinic.
Indeed, the study of Besedovsky and his colleagues may stimulate the development of new therapeutic strategies that improve the functionality of T-cells, which may be useful, for example, for immunotherapy against cancer.
Two years ago, another study by U. de Tubinga showed that when sleeping, the immune system "restarts" to work better: a good break favors the production and quality of lymphocytes, the cells of the body's defense system.
At the same time, researchers from the US of Washington in the United States. They pick up 11 twin pairs to see the effect of sleep deprivation. For three weeks, one of the twins slept the necessary thing-about eight hours, and the other woke him up after four hours of sleep.
By analyzing blood and saliva, they note that lack of sleep "excludes" the activity of white blood cells, the main cells of the immune system.
"Today's society has more responsibilities that prevent us from sleeping as much as we should," said Nathaniel Watson, one of the authors, "for that we must add a constant presence of technological devices that produce artificial light that confuses our brains and we have to stress the importance of protecting our hours of sleep in order to avoid illness.
Opinion agreed by Dr. Pablo Brockman, UC Health Network Sleep Medicine Specialist and former President of the Chilean Sleep Medicine Society. "One of the important measures applied today in hospitals is that when there are infectious processes, in addition to controlling the sick, they remain asleep to improve their immunity."
In these cases, sleep also favors patient recovery as, according to a U. of California study in Berkeley published in January, a night of bad sleep can increase the sensitivity of the pain by up to 30%.
Maintaining good sleep hygiene is essential throughout life, says Brockman, but "there are ages that are particularly sensitive as children and adolescents who spend a lot of time in front of the screens and sleep less or delay sleep hours, what can ultimately compromise your immune system in the future. "