Now, more than ever, it’s important to make sure your immunity is functioning at capacity. While there are a number of factors that impact the efficacy of your body’s immunity, scientists have a lot to say about the impact of sleep. Here’s what’s at play:

What Happens When You Don’t Sleep

An important player in your immunity is your T cells. T cells are a type of white blood cell tasked with regulating your immune system. Specifically, they recognize when foreign irritants and potential infections enter your body then they secrete proteins called cytokines to produce the antibodies you need to fight off the threat. However, when you get poor sleep, this process doesn’t work as smoothly.

See, there’s a direct relationship between poor sleep and the efficacy of T cells. In a study conducted in Germany, researchers compared T cells from two groups of volunteers: one group slept while the other group stayed awake all night. The researchers found that the participants who slept had an inappropriate amount of stress hormones which messed with the T cells. The study’s author, Stoyan Dimitrov, PhD., explained it like this: “Stress hormones dip while the body is asleep. High levels of these substances might decrease the efficiency of T cell immune response to kill pathogens.” In other words, when you don’t get enough sleep, your body decreases its ability to recognize threats, meaning your body doesn’t do what it should to fight off things that make you sick.

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

Clearly, it’s important to make sure your body is set up to notice threats, so how much sleep does your body really need in order to make sure it’s able to fight off infections? The answer shouldn’t come as a surprise. According to the Sleep Foundation, the ideal sleep for an adult is 7-9 hours.

It also turns out that consistency really makes the difference here. A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that restricting sleep to four hours for even one night had negative impacts on cytokine production. Going a step deeper, the CDC reported that in a study, participants who slept four hours a night for six days and then slept 12 hours per night for the next seven days resulted in a greater than 50 percent decrease in antibody production compared to participants who slept normal hours. That is to say, if you want to set your immune system up to do its job, get your 7-9 hours of sleep every single night.

Getting Good Sleep Is Worth It

The relationship between sleep and immunity is complex, but the simple truth is this: getting a full night of rest on a regular schedule will make an impact on your body’s ability to fight off threats.  If you’re not getting the right amount of sleep, it’s time to make some changes. Dr. Oz has created products designed to ensure you are getting optimal sleep—always. Check out some of his sleep solutions.