Sleep Affects Potency of Vaccines

Aric Prather, PhD.

By Elizabeth Fernandez, courtesy of UC San Francisco As mothers have always known, a good night’s sleep is crucial to good health — and now a new study led by a UCSF researcher shows that poor sleep can reduce the effectiveness of vaccines. The study is the first performed outside a sleep laboratory to show that sleep duration is directly tied to vaccine immune response, the authors said. The study, conducted while the UCSF researcher was a doctoral student at the University of Pittsburgh, will appear in the August issue of the journal “SLEEP.” “With the emergence of our 24-hour lifestyle, longer working hours, and the rise in the use of technology, chronic sleep deprivation has become a way of life for many Americans,” said lead author Aric Prather, PhD, a clinical health psychologist and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar at UCSF and UC Berkeley. “These findings should help raise awareness in the public health community about the clear connection between sleep and health,” Prather said. Research has shown that poor sleep can make one susceptible to illnesses such as upper respiratory infections. To explore whether sleep duration, sleep efficiency, and sleep quality would impact immune processes important in the protection against infection, researchers investigated the antibody response to hepatitis B vaccinations on adults in good health. Antibodies are manufactured by the immune system to identify and neutralize foreign objects such as viruses. The study was conducted at the University of Pittsburgh. Each participant was administered the standard three-dose hepatitis B vaccine; the first and second dose were administered a month apart, followed by a booster dose at six months. 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. Sleep quality did not affect response to vaccinations.
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