Getting a sufficient amount of good-quality sleep every night is necessary if you wish to stay healthy and keep working throughout the day. Studies have proven that sleep deprivation is similar to being overdrunk, especially if you account for its effects on the brain.
recent research has also suggested that poor quality of sleep can increase the sensitivity to pain and enhance the possibility of acquiring cardiovascular problems. A recent study conducted by a team of scientists belonging to Germany has discovered a mechanism that links sleep to the functioning of the immune system.
The researchers leading this study have found that sleeping well during the night may increase the efficacy of certain immune cells called T cells.
The study paper that is now published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine reveals the core of this association between the defense mechanisms of the body and the sleep.
The Science Behind the Mechanism
T cells tend to contribute towards the immune system of the body as soon as a harmful entity enters your system. These cells immediately recognize the pathogens and lead to activation of integrins, a kind of protein that attaches T cells to their targets and tackle them.
The researchers noted that very little information was known about these T cells and how they activate integrins. In addition to this, they were also not sure of what may prevent them from attacking their targets.
For learning more about these mechanisms, the team emphasized on the Gs alpha-coupled receptor agonists. These refer to a type of signaling molecule with an ability to block the immune system action.
Through the analyses in the laboratory, they found some receptor agonists that stopped T cells from activation of integrins hence, preventing them from getting attached to their targets.
The receptor agonists they indicated included 2 different types of hormones, including noradrenaline and adrenaline, two types of pro-inflammatory molecules, and adenosine.
The levels of all these molecules required to stop the activation of integrin are seen in a lot of pathological conditions like malaria, tumor growth, stress, and hypoxia.
This pathway might be contributing to the suppression of the immune system linked to these pathologies, as per the scientists.
Sleep Enhances T-cell Responses
Because the levels of prostaglandins and adrenaline tend to decrease during sleep, the scientists went one step further and study this phenomenon in extreme details.
They extracted T cells from people who slept properly as well as from those who kept awake. After complete analyses of these samples, the scientists saw that the T cells in people who slept showed high integrin activation as compared to people who didn’t.
This indicated that sleep has a positive influence on the functioning of T cells as a part of the normal immune response. This is possibly due to the Gas-coupled receptor agonists that are less active during that time.
The findings suggest that sleep has the power to increase the efficacy of T cell responses, and this is especially relevant as per a high prevalence of sleep-related disorders such as aging, chronic stress, and depression.