Insufficient Sleep Affects Your Immunity After Vaccination, Study Suggests

Whether it was for the flu or COVID-19, a new study suggests we should get a good sleep before heading to the clinic.

The study, published in Current Biology, suggests sleeping less than six hours the night before your vaccination may restrict the immune system, limiting protection against the virus or bacteria.

"Good sleep not only amplifies but may also extend the duration of protection of the vaccine," says Eve Van Cauter, the senior author and professor emeritus at the University of Chicago’s Department of Medicine.


One interesting point in the study was that it seems to impact men severely. "Research that used objective measures of sleep deprivation, such as that of a sleep lab, found a decrease in the ability to respond to the vaccine that was particularly and statistically significant in males, but not females," says Michael Irwin, M.D., study co-author and distinguished professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the UCLA Geffen School of Medicine.

"There are known sex differences in immune response to foreign antigens, like viruses, and also to self antigens, like in autoimmune disorders," shares Phyllis Zee, M.D., Ph.D., neurology professor and director of the Center for Circadian and Sleep Medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine with CBS News.

"In general, women have stronger immune response, including (to the) flu vaccine. The evidence is that these differences reflect hormonal, genetic and environmental differences, which can change over the lifespan, so these differences may be less prominent among older adults."

Despite insufficient sleep affecting more males than females, per the research, not getting proper sleep the night before your vaccination can have a big impact on everyone.

How was the study conducted?

The study used a meta-analysis of prior research on sleep and immunity after getting vaccinated against influenza A and hepatitis A and B. With self-reported results, the data showed that those who got less than six hours of sleep had diminished antibodies. The link between insufficient sleep and immunity, however, was minimal.

When the study used objective measures, meaning individuals had to come in or use a specific device to precisely record their sleep, there was a strong link between insufficient sleep and immunity, especially for men.

The study suggests a lack of sleep the night before vaccination generally affects immunity and overall antibodies in adults between 18 and 60. The report says this is not an unforeseen result, as "older adults tend to sleep less in general, (so) going from seven hours of sleep per night to less than six hours is not as big of a change as going from eight hours to less than six."


The study didn't report any responses for COVID-19 vaccines, as there are no studies yet on vaccinated individuals regarding sleep. The team, however, thinks it will be the same for COVID-19 vaccinations.

"How we stimulate the immune system is the same whether we’re using an mRNA vaccine for Covid-19, or an influenza, hepatitis, typhoid or pneumococcal vaccine," Irwin says. "It’s a prototypical antibody or vaccine response, and that’s why we believe we can generalize to COVID."

Despite inadequate data to scientifically prove the impact of sleep on COVID-19 vaccination and antibodies, the research team ran a study to indicate that if an individual got their COVID-19 vaccination without much sleep, their antibody immunity to the vaccine would be diminished by approximately two months.

"You would have already lost two months of immunity, so to speak, even though you just got the shot," says Irwin. "If you have a poor immune response, you are less likely to get full protection from COVID."

Further research is still needed to see the link between inadequate sleep and our immune system.


Leave a reply

Your email will not be published. All fields are required.