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The Reason You’re Sick Is Because You Don’t Get Enough Sleep 

Let’s face a somewhat startling fact in today’s culture – sleep gets a bad rap. It seems crazy to say it like that, but it’s true. Even though many people like nothing better than rolling over and getting a few more minutes of shuteye, there’s a bit of an impression of wimpiness when it comes to sleep. 

After all, we celebrate people in business who can get by on just a few hours of sleep, who never seem to dial it down. In today’s 24/7 world, a lack of sleep seems to be a requisite for success. 

But, researchers and doctors know that people who experience a chronic lack of sleep have a hard time thinking straight. And now, there’s new research that shows that the rest of your body also suffers when you don’t get enough ZZZs. 

A European study reported this summer shows that a lack of sleep triggers the same response by your immune system as physical stress; meaning that your white blood cell count elevates and the body acts as if it’s under siege. In other words, a lack of sleep has a negative impact on how your immune system functions; it creates stress, which makes you more likely to get sick. 

“I’m not surprised by the results of this study,” says Calvin Stafford, M.D., medical director of the Crozer-Keystone Sleep Center at Taylor Hospital. “Acute sleep deprivation produces a number of biologic changes.” 

A persistent lack of sleep can start a downward health spiral. It’s especially important for students to understand the role that sleep plays in their health. Students tend to procrastinate and put off their studies until the last minute, leading to the all-night study session. That might allow them to pass a test in the short term but could have negative long-term repercussions. 

“Pulling an all-nighter is not the healthiest thing one does as a college student,” Dr. Stafford says. “Lack of sleep and sleep disorders are associated with major negative health consequences. People with insomnia have more frequent infections, musculoskeletal pain problems, headaches and other health-related complaints.” 

So whether you’re a student, a busy parent shuttling your kids to practices and activities and working around the clock, or an executive lying awake at night because of the pressures of business, you need sleep. For most people, getting at least seven hours of sleep a night is a critical component of being healthy. 

“Healthy immune function is best served by a healthy lifestyle including proper diet, proper exercise, proper sleep, and social and spiritual enrichment,” Dr. Stafford says. 

And so maybe people will realize that shutting down and getting some sleep isn’t wimpy. It’s smart. 

Crozer-Keystone offers a multidisciplinary approach to the identification and treatment of all types of sleep disorders. For more information or to make an appointment, visit http://sleepcenters.crozerkeystone.org or call 1-888-SLEEP-03 (1-888-753-3703).

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