There is considerable bidirectional interaction between sleep and the immune system.
Sleep disorders are a challenge to the proper functioning of the body’s defense systems — especially sleep loss, due to its contribution to acute stress84 85., Both total sleep time (TST) and slow-wave sleep (SWS) increase during acute infection86. Conversely, severe illnesses, discomfort, and pain can inhibit SWS and, therefore, delay healing87.
Many factors that regulate the immune response have also been shown to modulate sleep, especially non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. The best data clearly document bidirectional interaction between NREM sleep and both interleukin-1β (IL-1) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF)88, but many similar interactions occur between factors of the immune system and parts of the sleep architecture.
84. Majde JA, Krueger JM. Links between the innate immune system and sleep. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2005;116:1188-1198.
85. Darko DF, Mitler MM, Henricksen SJ. Lentiviral infection, immune response peptides, and sleep. Adv Neuroimmunol. 1995;5:57-77.
86. Majde JA, Krueger JM. Links between the innate immune system and sleep. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2005;116:1188-1198.
87. Toth LA, Opp MR. Sleep and infection. In: Lee-Chiong TL, Sateia MJ, Carskadon, MA, eds. Sleep Medicine. Philadelphia, Pa: Hanley and Belfus; 2002:77-84.
88. Krueger JM, Obal FJ. The role of cytokines in physiological sleep regulation. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2001;933:211-221.