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Does sleep help you fight diseases?

By Tim Sandle     Apr 25, 2014 in Science
When you get sick, does it help to get some extra sleep? By looking at fruit flies, researchers have shown that sleep enhances immune system response and recovery to infection.
For the study, the researchers subjected fruit flies to sleep deprivation before infecting them with bacteria. Both the sleep-deprived flies and a non-sleep-deprived control group displayed increased sleep after infection.
A second study found that inducing sleep deprivation after infection rather than before made little difference, as long as the infected flies then got adequate recovery sleep. In a further study the researchers manipulated sleep through a genetic approach. They used a drug to alter neuronal activity in the body of the fly brain, and thereby regulate sleep patterns.
Compared to a control group, flies that were induced to sleep more, and for longer periods of time for up to two days before infection, showed substantially greater survival rates. The flies with more sleep also showed faster and more efficient rates of clearing the bacteria from their bodies.
In examining the results, the researchers concluded that sleep increases activity of the body’s immune system, which then fights infection.
The study was carried out at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. The findings have been published in the appropriately titled journal Sleep.
More about Sleep, Disease, Infection, Body, Immune System
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