How is Your Sleep? Exploring the Impact of Sleep on Infection Prevention

Sleep Matters


Sleep is crucial to maintaining our health and wellbeing. But for many people, sleep problems such as insomnia can cause significant disruptions to their lives. In addition, lack of sleep can have negative impacts on both our physical and mental health, including increasing the risk of infection.

A Study on Sleep Duration and Infection


A recent study published in Frontiers in Psychiatry reveals that individuals who sleep less than six hours or more than nine hours are at a higher risk of infection. The University of Bergen in Norway conducted the study with 1,848 patients in 2020. Short sleep duration, chronic insomnia disorder, and chronic sleep problems were linked to a higher prevalence of infection and antibiotic use. The risk of infection was 27% higher for patients sleeping less than six hours and 44% higher for those sleeping more than nine hours compared to those sleeping seven to eight hours. The study supports the notion that there is a strong association between sleep and infection.

Sleep and the Immune System


Sleep and the immune system are closely related, although the exact mechanisms are not fully understood. During sleep, the body produces cytokines, a type of protein that helps to fight off infection and inflammation. Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to a decrease in cytokine production, which can weaken the immune system and make it more susceptible to infection.

Sleep and Antibiotic Use


Antibiotics are becoming less effective due to overuse and misuse, and research has suggested that getting enough sleep can help to prevent and treat infections. Healthy sleep patterns have been found to boost immune function and enhance the body’s ability to fight off infections. Studies have shown that people who slept for less than seven hours were more likely to catch a cold than those who slept at least eight hours per night.

Tips for Improving Sleep Habits


According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults require seven to nine hours of sleep per night to maintain optimal health. Improving sleep habits is possible and here are some tips:

  • Stick to a regular sleep schedule. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
  • Create a relaxing sleep environment. Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool, and invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows.
  • Limit your exposure to screens before bedtime. The blue light emitted by electronic devices can interfere with your sleep cycle, so try to avoid using them for at least an hour before bedtime.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine before bedtime. These substances can interfere with your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
  • Practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga to reduce stress and promote relaxation.

What Can We Learn From This Study?


Sleep plays a crucial role in maintaining our physical and mental health, and it is important to get enough sleep to reduce the risk of infection and other health problems. By understanding the importance of sleep and taking steps to improve our sleep habits, one can enjoy the many benefits that come with a good night’s rest. From improved cognitive function to a stronger immune system and reduced risk of chronic diseases, getting enough quality sleep is one of the most important things we can do for our overall health and well-being. By improving sleep habits, individuals can improve their overall health and wellbeing.

This study highlights the importance of addressing sleep problems among patients in primary care. You can find the original research article here.  


Forthun I, Eliassen KER, Emberland KE and Bjorvatn B (2023) The association between self-reported sleep problems, infection, and antibiotic use in patients in general practice. Front. Psychiatry 14:1033034. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2023.1033034

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