Sleep is a restorative process that plays a significant role in maintaining the homeostatic functions of the body. The immune system is particularly affected by sleep, and during periods of sleep there are changes to certain aspects of immunity. For example, during sleep levels of the cytokine interleukin 6 increase. Interleukin 6 is thought to have a number of roles during sleep including the mobilisation of energy, the stimulation of protein synthesis, the maintenance of body temperature and the consolidation of memories. Interleukin 6 may also be required as a modulator of inflammation and is also considered a response element to stress. Individuals with disturbed sleep patterns have been evidenced to display detrimental functioning of their interleukin 6 release during sleep. In one study human subjects were deprived of a certain degree of sleep and as a result their levels of interleukin 6 dropped, suggesting that significant disruption to homeostatic systems, including immunity, may have occurred.
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