Review

Sick and tired: does sleep have a vital role in the immune system?

  • Nature Reviews Immunology volume 4, pages 457467 (2004)
  • doi:10.1038/nri1369
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Abstract

It is a common belief that we are more susceptible to infections when deprived of sleep. Consistent with this, there is increasing evidence that sleep deprivation has detrimental effects on the immune response, indicating that sleep should be considered a vital part of the immune system and that there is a reciprocal relationship between sleep and immunity. This relationship is important because, over recent decades, there has been a documented decrease in the mean duration and quality of sleep in the population. The concept that lack of sleep might be compromising immunity in the population has far-reaching public-health implications for both individuals and society.

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Entrez Gene

  1. ACTH

    • CRH

      • GHRH

        • growth hormone

          • IL-1β

            • orexin

              • prolactin

                • TNF

                  Acknowledgements

                  The authors thank R. Robins-Browne, J. McCluskey and D. Ventor for helpful comments on the manuscript. P.A.B. is the recipient of a European Society of Paediatric Infectious Diseases Fellowship Award.

                  Author information

                  Affiliations

                  1. University Department of Paediatrics, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, and Department of General Medicine (Paediatric Infectious Diseases Unit). Royal Children's Hospital, Flemington Road, Parkville, Victoria 3052, Australia.

                    • Penelope A. Bryant
                    •  & Nigel Curtis
                  2. Department of Psychology, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria 3010, Australia.

                    • John Trinder

                  Authors

                  1. Search for Penelope A. Bryant in:

                  2. Search for John Trinder in:

                  3. Search for Nigel Curtis in:

                  Competing interests

                  The authors declare no competing financial interests.

                  Corresponding author

                  Correspondence to Nigel Curtis.

                  Glossary

                  ELECTROENCEPHALOGRAM

                  Graphical representation of the electrical activity of the brain, recorded by attaching electrodes to the scalp. The shape, frequency and amplitude of the waveforms provide information about the stage and intensity of sleep.

                  MURAMYL PEPTIDES

                  Fragments of peptidoglycans, from the cell walls of Gram-positive bacteria, that are thought to have a crucial role in the generation of the immune response to Gram-positive bacterial infection.

                  LIPOPOLYSACCHARIDE

                  A constituent of the cell walls of Gram-negative bacteria that is thought to be important for eliciting the immune response to Gram-negative bacterial infection. Also known as endotoxin.

                  PYROGENIC RESPONSE

                  The response to infection that leads to fever. Cytokines induced by microbial products — particularly tumour-necrosis factor and interleukins — function to increase the 'set point' for body temperature (through eliciting prostaglandin synthesis in the hypothalamus) and consequently produce fever.

                  ACUTE-PHASE RESPONSE

                  The early immune response to infection, which results in the production of cytokines and other mediators and an increase in the number of peripheral leukocytes.

                  CIRCADIAN RHYTHMICITY

                  Having an approximately 24-hour variation. This can be a property of biological or behavioural processes. It can be a direct consequence of an endogenous circadian mechanism or be secondary to other processes, such as the sleep–wake cycle. From the Latin words circa meaning 'about' and dies meaning 'day'.

                  OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNOEA

                  A medical condition in which the obstruction of upper airways causes episodes of breathing cessation during sleep, leading to recurrent arousals from sleep and other complications.

                  CIRCADIAN OSCILLATOR

                  The biological clock responsible for organizing many of the circadian rhythms of the body. It is a function of the suprachiasmatic nucleus in the brain.

                  CACHEXIA

                  Severe weight loss, muscle wasting and debility caused by prolonged disease. It is thought to be mediated through neuroimmunoendocrine interactions.

                  CHRONIC FATIGUE AND FIBROMYALGIA

                  Clinical conditions characterized by debilitating fatigue, often following a viral illness. In the latter, fatigue occurs together with chronic pain and tenderness in muscles.