How Sleep Helps Your Immune System
Here’s another reason you want to keep getting a good night’s sleep: It can help boost your immume system.
Researchers from the University of Tubingen in Germany identified the three steps our brain takes in order to create memories: first is encoding, second is consolidation, and third is recall.
- Encoding: The brain takes up information and stores a representation of this in our brain cells
- Consolidation: The brain transforms the representations from fragile, easily lost cells into more stable, longer-lasting cellular representations by moving
- Recall: This is what happens when the stored memories are reactivated in order to respond to the environment around them
The researchers found that when the body encounters a bacteria or virus, the immune system collects parts of the bug in accessory cells, the immune system’s version of encoding.
Then, during sleep, the immune system takes the collected cells and transfers them into T cells for long-term storage, a version of consolidation.
In this process, the T cells take only the important information so they can recognize similar pathogens as well. Without sufficient sleep, according to the researchers, T cells could focus on the wrong information and fail to successfully perform the recall process and recognize infections.