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Researchers measured the sleep patterns of 125 adults who received the three-shot course of the vaccine to protect against hepatitis B. The immune systems of participants who slept less produced fewer antibodies in response to the vaccine and blood tests showed that they did not meet the standard of protection from the virus.
People who slept less than six hours per night were nearly 12 times more likely to be left unprotected by the vaccine than those who slept more than seven hours per night.
Only the amount of sleep, not the quality of sleep, affected the amount of antibodies produced in response to the vaccine.
"Given that more and more Americans are grappling with chronic sleep deprivation, these findings should be a wake-up call to the public health community about the clear connection between sleep and health," study author Aric Prather, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholar at the University of California, both at Berkeley and San Francisco, said in a foundation news release.
The study, published in the Aug. 1 issue of the journal Sleep, is the first outside a sleep laboratory to confirm that the amount of sleep people get affects how they respond to vaccinations, according to Prather.
"Based on our findings and laboratory evidence, physicians and other health professionals who are administering vaccines may want to consider asking their patients about their sleep patterns first, since a lack of sleep may affect the efficacy of the vaccine," Prather said.
Adults should get seven to nine hours of sleep per night, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
While the study found an association between sleep and vaccine effectiveness, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
-- Robert Preidt
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