Sleep deprivation and the immune system – A zombie like weakened immune system

Sleep time By Pixabay

People who lack sleep can have a multitude of problems from being tired all the time all day long, to not being present in the moment.

Lack of sleep over many days can cause sleep deprivation and can cause a multitude of diseases like memory loss, cancer, weight gain, hunger, diabetes, a spike in blood pressure, heart disease, prolonged insomnia and can cause dementia over the long haul. This is terrible! This is no way to be in life and no way to live life.

Sleep deprived people also lack the ability to perform well under pressure, have poor motor skills and cannot cope with stress as well when it shows up in their daily life.
Standard recommendations on sleep are eight hours a night for adults, nine hours a night for teenagers and eleven hours a night for babies and toddlers. So how does sleep deprivation affect your immune system?

How can we identify our own specific sleeping patterns and what kind of sleeping disturbances affects our immunity?

In this blog post I’m going to talk about sleep deprivation and the immune system, what is the circadian rhythm and natural sleep remedies that really work.

Sleep deprivation and the immune system – an ongoing battle in our ever busy society

Three ways sleep deprivation weakens the immune system: overworked immune system, stress and lack of oxygen.

  1. Research shows that while sleep deprived, the white blood cell count skyrockets causing the immune system to be more active or “hyperactive” says Dr. Mercola in his article New insights into links between immune function and sleep. Lowered immunity functions affects gut microbes producing a proliferation of bacteria that promotes obesity and affects metabolism. This can cause food cravings to occur for the wrong kinds of foods like foods void in nutrients, salty, sugary and full of carbohydrates.
  2. He also states that this is the same type of immune response shown in people who are experiencing high stress or in people who are ill. The increase in white blood cell count is an indicator of an underlying disease. The white blood cells then move to the areas in the body where infections or inflammations are present. This study can be seen here in The journal of biological chemistry. Sleep deprivation causes the immune system to become overactive which means it becomes overworked or weakened because too much stress is being put on it where it then loses the ability to do its job functions at top performance.
  3. If you think you might lack energy during your day check with your doctor to see if you have sleep apnea. This is a serious health condition that causes one to stop breathing at night. This means serious stress is being put onto the body, sleep deprived stress and can cause death if chronic enough. If this is happening to you then you are not getting enough oxygen to your brain. This condition may startle you awake and if not, it will not wake you up because you’ll be dead instead. This happens because oxygen is being cut off from your brain and this impairment causes less quality sleep which affects your immune system because it’s being weakened. Very serious cases of people who experience sleep apnea may die from this condition. It’s very important to get tested for it as soon as possible. Check with your doctor right away.

    Sleep deprivation By Pixabay

As a call center phone representative, I do get that occasional upset angry caller who wants to just yell at the other person on the other end of the line. This is something I can anticipate and I can then be ahead of the game by taking care of myself by getting rested sleep and in that way I’m prepared for what lies ahead for me.

Being sleep deprived will not allow me the luxury to handle a difficult caller so it’s important that I’m prepared by going to bed early and or on time.

This is why everyone has a responsibility to take care of themselves regularly because we don’t know what stressful situations will be thrown at us during our workday.

Stress/Relax By Pixabay

These stressful situations can occur on the road as angry drivers commit road rage or when a friend, coworker or family member goes off at you, yelling at you.

As incoming stress hits us in the face, how we handle it is crucial. Being healthy and handling it well is better than being sickly sleep deprived and handling stressful situations badly whenever they pop up.

Plus getting quality sleep is not just responsible, it’s caring. It shows others that you care about not just your health, it shows you care about the well-being of others as well.

Mainly your immune system becomes unable to rest and rebuild itself and nourish itself without quality sleep, therefore the build up of toxins and toxic cellar waste is still present in your body and wasn’t able to be detoxified during your sleep time.

If you have bad insomnia then your much more susceptible to illness and your circadian rhythm can be disrupted and normal body functions are impaired.

Your immune system response will be slow because your body isn’t producing enough natural killer cells to help ward off germs and infections which can lead to more colds and flu.

Hence, you are allowing yourself to get sick more often. The goal isn’t to be more susceptible to diseases but to be less susceptible to diseases, illness, infections and inflammation. Reduce stress by getting some restful sleep.

Waking up tired By Pixabay

According to Health Line, one could become so sleepy that one develops micro-sleep. This causes your body to sleep at unexpected times during your day while you’re awake.

This may interfere with daily activities and can cause alarm because you can hurt or injure yourself and others, especially if this occurs while you’re driving a car.

Contact your medical doctor if you’re experiencing micro sleeping. If you’re doing too much in life by taking on more then you can handle, burnout will occur, accidents can happen and others can get upset with you for not being the responsible adult you need to be.

Rest and relaxation are a big part of life. I think people in general forget this amazing blessing about life; relaxing is fundamentally important in order to have a balanced life and to stay on top of our game.

So many of us including myself at times can get caught up in the craziness and busyness and stressful dramas of life or get caught in other people’s problems.

This can mean not getting needed sleep because worrying sets in and the brain can’t calm down. Getting a good nights sleep is essential for not just avoiding other people’s dramas, it allows for better engagement with others daily.

If you have to take a nap, do it! It won’t hurt to power nap now and again or even regularly if your daily schedule allows.

Taking a nap By Pixabay

Your sleeping pattern is an indication of how healthy you are. The healthier you are, the better quality sleep you’ll get.

At the website Nutritional Healing Center, NHCAA (The Nutritional Healing Center of Ann Arbor) says that Nutrition is a major part of the key to being healthy.

Most people in our population are nutrient deficient and over time this causes diseases and premature aging.

Some causes of sleep deprivation are because of distracting households like animals in the home or disruptive sleep partners, mental worries like worrying about money or unworkable relationships, drinking too much, city lights that are always on and parting in the nightlife, working graveyard, staying up too late night after night, working on computers before bed, drinking caffeine drinks before bed and continued lasting insomnia.

When our immunity is compromised we don’t function well or give ourselves the nutritional foods we need to be eating and giving ourselves the time we need to sleep by regenerating our body, repairing cellular DNA and healing our sacred temple. A vicious sleepless cycle ensued never seems to cease.

What is the circadian rhythm? The natural sleep-wake cycle that most people don’t adhere to

Sleep rythum By Pixabay

Not everyone has the same sleeping requirements for quality sleep. I have known many people such as coworkers of mine that need no more then six hours of sleep a night or even four hours of sleep a night. That’s amazing!

However, many healthcare professionals and researchers believe that four hours of sleep a night consistently is considered sleep deprivation.

At the website 25 doctors, they talk about how lack of sleep causes so many health problems and that it not only lowers immunity it puts people at risk for heart disease.

Maybe this is why statistically people die so frequently from heart disease? It’s possible sleep deprivation may have something to do with it.

I’ve spoken to many people young and old and there are just some people that require less sleep then others and others that need more.

For example, I’ve spoken to some elderly people in their 70’s and most said that they get more sleep now then they did before when they were younger.

Sleep disorders can become more common as we get older too and elderly people can have health conditions that keep them up at night especially when they have pain and diseases that cause lack of sleep.

People who are healthy can sleep better than someone who is ill. Have you ever been sick with a cold? For me it keeps me up all night coughing and blowing my nose; I can’t ever get any sleep when I’m sick!

However, I know for sure that if I don’t get seven hours of sleep a night I’m sleep deprived and the same goes for too much sleep. I have known people that can be fully functional on four to five hours of sleep or just six hours of sleep a night and be okay. It just depends on their circadian rhythm.

Sun/moon sleep wake rythum By Pixabay

So then what is the circadian rhythm? It’s our natural relationship towards the rhythms of the Earth and Sun cycle.

We call this our circadian rhythm. Since our body needs to find balance for our sleep/wake cycle which runs on a 24-hour day and night system it’s important that we stick to the rhythm that is natural for us individually because it is that which is syncing us to the sun and moon.

Therefore it’s about finding your Chronotype. It’s much more beneficial to find your circadian rhythm and stick to what works best for you then be operational daily on the wrong Chronotype.

The key to success in this area would be to go to sleep when you are tired and wake up with the natural sunlight. It can make all the difference for a better day the next day.

Just remember that how sleep deprivation affects the immune system can hold priority over getting well versus staying sick if this condition isn’t remedied.

If you’re interested in finding out your Chronotype, the sleep doctor has the quiz to find out your sleeping rhythm check out the Chronotype Quiz.

The sleep doctor says that there are four Chronotypes: Bears, Wolfs, Dolphins and Lions.

Here on TedTalks he talks about the four types and how at some point in our lives we experience all four but we generally lean towards one more then the other.

What’s really cool about this is that he says based on this natural sleeping rhythm there’s actually a best time to not just sleep, there’s a best time to eat, work, have sex and workout.

This is based on your Chronotype and how your hormones are affected by our circadian rhythm. He says that most people don’t know how to rest, restore their energy and relax in their lives.

This can cause more stress if we don’t allow ourselves to learn how to recuperate from our day to day stresses.

He says most people just don’t know how to prepare for bed let alone have a nighttime bedtime routine. He talks about blue light too and how it’s like “coffee for the brain.” Blue light comes from our computer screens, lab tops, smartphones, and TVs.

He recommends wearing blue light glasses to minimize the effects if you absolutely have to be looking at a computer screen before bed. Which, should never be necessary if you value your sleep health.

Here is what natural sleep cycles look like according to Dr. Mercola’s article The Truth About Sleep there are 5 sleep cycle stages and they all last about fifteen minutes each and then the cycle starts again six times and continues to repeat until you wake up.

Sleeping and snoring By Pixabay

  1. Light sleep
  2. Brainwaves slow down – light sleep
  3. Deep sleep, the comatose phase – no REM sleep
  4. Deep sleep with detoxification taking place and cells shrink 60%
  5. Deep REM sleep (rapid eye movements)

Sleep By Pixabay

According to Medical News Today a sleep study was done by researchers that showed improved memory recall.

It shows how when memories are called upon they are associated well with napping and getting quality sleep – REM sleep.

This REM sleep stage is building immune memory strength and long term “memory consolidation,” connected with our autonomic nervous system being turned on or being activated while we sleep which is helping to improve our memory immune system functions.

In this way our bodies determine what memories to keep and which memories to discard.

Cat sleeping By Pixabay

Getting those sleepy Zzz’s is imperative for a healthier functioning immune system which while we’re sleeping will repair, heal and become rejuvenated. I can’t say this enough!

These sleep cycles that we talked about above where we go through these sleep stages helps us reduce and manage daily life stresses.

If these sleep cycles are disrupted then we call this insomnia or lack of sleep. If it goes on for many days then there are serious cases of sleep stress going on and we call it sleep deprivation.

Natural sleep remedies that really work! Find your perfect sleep fix!

Dream catcher By Pixabay

How can we make the necessary lifestyle changes needed to prevent and eliminate this serious impact of sleep deprivation on the immune system? How do we really make an impact on our health?

Well, by using natural sleep remedies that really work. We need to dig deep into self care and love for our bodies. For instance, getting quality sleep needs to be a priority to be implemented just like exercising for good health and eating better foods to allow a sense of satiated satisfaction.

It’s the same for eating because we need to make it a conscious decision – to use mindfulness in regards to eating less food by eating the right portions as to not be overeating before bed.

In that way there will be better digestion as we sleep, as we repair and as we detoxify the body. We do these things to live a better more for filling life because it’s about living a lifestyle that you love.

Clean and fresh bedroom By Pixabay

Getting into good lifestyle patterns if practiced regularly is the start of really getting well and healthy.

We can do so with simple lifestyle changes that will improve well-being and improve healthy sanitation.

Get in the habit of preforming good hygiene techniques because this will help you to sleep well and keep your immune system function better by keeping bad bacteria, viruses and toxins away. Things to take action on:

  1. Wash your hands before eating and after using the bathroom by washing hands with soap and water for a good 20-30 seconds
  2. Keep fingernails clipped and clean of dirt and oil
  3. Hydrate yourself with a good organic nontoxic hand lotion
  4. Keep clean by taking regular showers and always wear clean clothes
  5. Brush and floss teeth regularly especially before going to bed
  6. Keep bed sheets clean more often
  7. Always be mindful of using natural cleaning products to clean your house versus using toxic cleaners that have chemicals in them
  8. Exercise for strength and good oxygenated blood flow – People who are more active in getting adequate exercise lose less sleep, are more productive at their job and have more blood circulation which reduces overall stress and inflammation then people who don’t exercise. Exercise helps promote and protect a healthy body and therefore a strong immune system.
  9. Eat fermented foods says Dr. Mercola because eating fermented vegetable foods helps our entrocytes replicate faster and to heal our gut microbes to replicate and repopulate our gut flora, our microbiome or as some call it our second brain. Entrocytes are cells that replenish and restore the lining of our intestines and they do this with good nutrition in protein synthesis and by the assistance of the good bacteria or beneficial microbes.
  10. Get your intestines checked out for parasites and fungus – Anyone with gut issues or intestinal problems are more likely to have this natural cellular replication process interrupted due to the flora in the gut housing the wrong type of bacteria such as pathogenic bacteria, fungus, worms, viruses and protozoa bacteria. Sleep deprivation will reduce this process resulting in what Dr. Mercola says could be a “skewed” immune system or to quote him, it “can lead to a wide array of ailments, including immune diseases.” He also says that the gut microbes play an integral part in our sleeping patterns because our microbiome has a direct link to our circadian rhythm. So autoimmune diseases then surface and would need to be considered as one of many variable results of a dysfunctional or decimated immune system.

    A place to rest By Pixabay

Some sleep remedies from The Nutritional Healing Center of Ann Arbor:

  1. Eat healthy and skip the late night snack
  2. Don’t drink sugary drinks and stimulants before bed
  3. Get 30 min of exercise in a day, preferably walking but not before bed as it can cause one to stay awake longer
  4. Turn off electronic devices especially turn off the WiFi router each night
  5. Get your nutrients and supplements for sleep aid such as Passion Flower or magnesium lactate and sea salt for muscle cramps

Some extra ideas I’ve included are:

  1. Sleep in total darkness-hide every light you see on or is blinking
  2. Sleep in an environmental temperature between 68-70 degrees F, per Dr. Mercola
  3. Set a timer on your smartphone an hour before bedtime to prepare for sleep. This means turning off all electronics, TV, phones, radios an hour before bed to reduce blue light per Dr. Mercola.
  4. Take a bath before bed or a nice hot shower up to two hours before bedtime, per Dr Mercola.
  5. Eat an early enough dinner so you’re not full before bed and stop drinking liquids two hours before bedtime to reduce frequent urination
  6. Keep bed sheets fresh and clean regularly
  7. On a daily basis eat organic healthy foods
  8. Take a good raw food multivitamin and get good minerals in your diet by taking vitamins and take vitamin C before bed to boost immunity
  9. Keep an air purifier and humidifier on in your room while you sleep to help air quality
  10. Do self massage or do it with a partner to relax tired muscles – using a good smelling massage oil is relaxing and creates positive ambiance for the mind to be able to relax
  11. Taking Hemp CBD oil as it can relax your body and open up your endocanebanoid system. (I am selling it here and if you do purchase it just know I do get a small stipend)  —-> Hemp oil CBD full spectrum
  12. Practicing a relaxing form of yoga during the last hour before your bedtime can help one get to sleep faster
  13. Taking herbs that helps relax the body are great! Dr. Schulze’s herbal formula works wonders on me; it’s called the Nerve Formula and doesn’t just help with relaxation it helps me specifically with pain and restlessness when it occurs
  14. There’s a really good YouTube video with Jim Donovan called How to trick your brain into falling asleep where he talks about how the key to falling asleep is in rhythm. He calls it “Brain Tapping.” It’s drumming on your body by creating a syncopation that he calls a “freeway follow response” that calms the mind which literally seems to be hypnotic. He uses this with a breathing technique that together makes the brain and body relax into slumber
  15. Finally there’s a breathing technique that seems to be extremely beneficial Guided Wim Hof Method Breathing, Breathing Bubble technique by Wim Hof. As one does this breathing technique consistently, one will find oxygen flowing to more parts of the body faster and a sensation of well-being is felt.

    Natural Sleeping with mother nature By Pixabay


In conclusion, getting enough sleep helps prevent weight gain, stabilizes our walking gate because being well-balanced when we walk keeps us moving better and keeps blood flow moving properly.

Sleep deprivation can cause so many problems like being lazy, being too tied to do tasks; it brings a higher rate of accidents our way, and increase blood pressure, diabetes and can also cause a reduced libido!

Having a healthy sex-drive is important too. Remember that significant risks due to lack of sleep when it occurs over days can turn into sleep deprivation and can cause weight gain, memory loss, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, reductions in toxins being eliminated, lower motor skills, low cognitive thinking, causes prolonged insomnia, can lead to sickness, infections, can increase inflammation, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and eventually can cause early death.

Don’t allow the devil of sleep deprivation to affect your immune system and make your life a living hell when it can all be turned around easily. And why wouldn’t you want to sleep better?

Sleeping well helps regulate hormones to allow for natural sexual attraction. So get some quality sleep, your intimate partner will appreciate you more.

Plus, you’ll feel better and you will function with more acute attentiveness in day to day tasks .

So let’s recap a bit. Lack of quality sleep can cause the immune system to not produce as many healthy white blood cells, B and T cells to help defend your life.

Again, getting enough sleep is so important that it can’t be stressed enough! It’s a required foundation needed for good health and overall productivity during the day.

So, find your circadian rhythm by checking out the website Sleep Habits or by finding out your Chronotype with The Sleep Doctor, find some sleeping remedies from No Sleepless Nights that will help you to fall asleep more quickly and if you still need more convincing, having a restful slumber will keep diseases away and will help maintain and balance mood because you’ll be less cranky, be much more clear-headed and your thoughts will be more focused.

Getting enough sleep allows for better overall concentration crucial for critical thinking when needed for your job. Your employer will thank you for being more productive! So don’t forget that it’s worth increasing your quality of health to work on eliminating diseases and stress.

Wouldn’t you rather function better in life then be sleep deprived and have a weaker immune system? I would. Time to rethink that sleep schedule if it’s out of whack and get back on the bandwagon.

Life is too short to walk around sleep deprived, when your days could be filled with meditative mindfulness, vibrant health and sharp awareness.

Good dreams By Pixabay

Moon and stars ✨ By Pixabay



Readers Comments (2)

  1. Decent article and advice on sleep deprivation, things that could help sleep is a good bed and pillow. offer frequent discounts on these!

    • Hi Jason,
      Thanks for your comment. I agree! A good bed and pillow does wonders for quality sleep. Plus sleeping in darkness and clean sheets!💤😊

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