Good Sleep: The secret prescription to improve the efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccine
Getting a good night’s sleep is proven to boost your immune response after getting vaccinated, suggests studies. Are you ready to give it a shot?
Vaccines have long been recognized as a critical tool to fight against viral outbreaks and serious illnesses. When the Covid-19 pandemic gripped the world, all hopes were on discovering a vaccine to help us get back to normal. Today after intensive efforts and exhaustive research we have managed to develop a few different types, with varied efficacies. The world has welcomed these vaccines with emotions ranging from sigh of relief to skepticism and even anxiety. Hence, the concern remains - How to be ready to take a Covid-19 vaccine?
What if we say the simple way to vastly improve the immune response before and after getting the Covid-19 vaccine is good sleep? Yes, it is true. Many studies suggest that good sleep is a free, easily accessible and 100% natural way to improve vaccine efficacy.
Sleep For Immunity
Ever since the pandemic surged, so did the need and awareness about sanitizing our hands, wearing masks, keeping socially distanced and switching to a healthy and immunity-boosting diet. What people missed is the role of sleep - our body’s natural capability to boost immunity. Every night, as we settle down to sleep, our mind and body slowly shuts down and goes into a deep cleanse. Harmful toxins get removed, antibodies are developed, our weary muscles recover and our essential hormones are regulated. The healthy functioning of every single organ in our amazing human bodies are primed as we sleep.
Sleep itself affects how well the immune system operates. During sleep especially during the slow wave sleep phase, our immune system fortifies its defenses building long term immunity function.
Studies show that people who sleep less than six or seven hours per night are at a higher risk of infections linked to compromised immunity.
Compromised immunity involves:
- Accelerated aging and reduced life expectancy
- Greater susceptibility to infections, including viruses
- Increased inflammation
- Weakened ability for the body’s immune system to recognize threats and fight back
Sleep and Vaccine Response
Sleep is proven to directly influence our immunity levels. It also affects acquired immunity - a type of immunity one gains from vaccination.
Hence, sleep is said to play an important in increasing the effectiveness of vaccination designed to boost acquired immunity.
In a controlled medical study done in connection with common cold and flu causing rhinoviruses at the University of California, San Francisco, by Sleep Scientist and Associate Professor Dr. Aric Prather, it was observed that the virus infection rate fell dramatically for participants who had slept for 7 hours or more prior to the experiment. The infection rate was 50% for those who were sleeping 5 hours or less, and it dropped to 18% for those who had been sleeping for 7 hours or more.
In our exclusive outreach to Dr. Aric Prather, he added “Sleep is strongly tied to how well our immune system functions, especially when it comes to vaccines. Several studies show that a lack of sleep on the days surrounding vaccination is associated with a less robust antibody response.” he said.
Sleep before and after vaccination effects effectiveness
Research shows that in order to optimize the effectiveness of a vaccine, it’s important to get quality sleep ahead of getting the vaccine and after you receive it.
A 2020 study proved production of lower percentage of antibodies in the first and fourth month after vaccination for volunteers who reportedly slept for a shorter duration two days prior to the vaccination.
In another similar research w.r.t to Hepatitis B multi-dose vaccination development ( similar to Covid-19 virus), it was revealed that there is a strong link between body’s production of fewer antibodies and poor sleep ( less than 6 hours) after the first dose. The study also helped conclude that there is a lesser chance of obtaining clinical protection from the disease for those sleeping less.
Many of us are likely to receive a Covid-19 vaccine that comes in two parts, spaced weeks apart. The research of sleep and vaccination response tells us that sleeping better throughout the vaccination period, and beyond, may help boost the body’s virus-fighting response.
Dr Kannan Ramar, President of American Academy of Sleep Medicine seconded this fact and said “ As COVID-19 vaccines are being distributed, it is of utmost importance that patients continue to prioritize their sleep to maintain optimal health. Getting sufficient, high-quality sleep on a regular basis strengthens your body's immune system and optimizes your response to a vaccine."
5 Key Tips on improving Sleep
How can we improve our sleep habits and get maximum immune response from the COVID -19 vaccines?
Here are some recommendations on how one can improve one’s sleep quality:
- Set up a proper sleep schedule: Creating regularity is the first step towards inculcating a good sleep habit. Go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday and make sure to get at least eight hours of quality sleep.
- Eat healthy & eat early: Indulging in a heavy dinner prolongs digestion, hence interfering with sleep. It is therefore recommended to eat a light yet healthy meal, at least 3-4 hours before going to bed.
- Stay cool: Our bodies sleep best at cool temperatures, ideally 18-21 degrees. Having a cool room is a good sleep aid. Another way to achieve this is to take a hot bath before bed. This helps in dropping the core temperature which helps in inducing sleep.
- Healthy sleep environment: Besides keeping the room cool, a clean and uncluttered sleep environment helps in putting your mind at ease and falling asleep faster. More books and fewer gadgets should be the approach. Pay special attention to the support and firmness of your mattress if you exercise and travel quite a lot.
- Wind down: Dedicate a few minutes to stretching or wind-down meditation. Practicing Yoga Nidra is a great way to relax, forget the anxieties of the day and prepare your mind and body to sleep. A calm mind and relaxed body are key to a peaceful sleep.
Remember sleep is an immune therapy for your mind and body. It is a super drug, it is free and has no side effects, so don’t use it in moderation.