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Health Tips The nighttime habit that can make you sick

Sleeping too little can wreak havoc on your immune system, according to a new study in the journal Sleep.

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Sleeplessness

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What you’re doing in the bedroom can really mess up your immunity

You already knew skimping on sleep can make you grumpy and foggy-headed, but it turns out, the effects can extend far beyond the next day.

Sleeping too little can wreak havoc on your immune system, according to a new study in the journal Sleep.

Researchers from the University of Washington examined blood samples from 11 sets of identical twins with different sleep habits. On average, one twin slept about an hour less per night than the other.

The shorter-sleeping twins showed a suppression of white blood cell activity, suggesting their immune systems were weaker. White blood cells fend off illness, so if they're not available when you need them to fight off foreign invaders, you're more likely to get sick.

The findings weren’t exactly surprising: Prior research has shown that sleep-deprived people catch viruses more easily, and their antibodies respond less to vaccines.

Light sleepers’ inflammatory responses were also down, which makes healing from injuries and infections harder. They also showed disruption in other bodily processes associated with heart and metabolic functions, too.

The authors think their results could even help explain why sleep deprivation is linked with cancer.

Lead author Dr. Nathaniel Watson, co-director of the UW Medicine Sleep Center at Harborview Medical Center, said in a press release that he recommends at least seven hours of sleep per night to avoid these issues.

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