Sleep Matters When it Comes to Vaccinations

As part of work I spend a bit of time reading through the daily flood of journal abstracts. This includes my own subscriptions as well as those sent to me by colleagues who are far too keen to share their own research interests. It does pay off from time to time.

Sleep is one of those weird activities that animals do that doesn’t have a good explanation.  We don’t know why we have to sleep, we just know we have to.

Good or extra sleep has been associated with improved motor function in those afflicted with Parkison’s disease, improved athletic performance, learning, and memory consolidation.

On the flip side lack of sleep has been associated with increased weight gain, higher risk of cardiac events, elevated cortisol levels, increased blood pressure, infections, decreased muscle sympathetic nerve activity and the subject of this study; reduced antibody response.

In this study, 125 healthy midlife adults were given a standard hepatitis B vaccination – a standard 3 dose protocol ( t1=0, t2=1month, t3=6 months) – and their antibody levels were measured just before t2 and t3 and then 6 months after the final dose.

Based on journals and electronic sleep diaries the researchers found that those who slept less than 6 hours per night showed markedly reduced responses than those who slept 7 or more hours. The sleep deprived group was also 11 times more likely to be unprotected by the vaccine.

The implications go beyond just vaccines. After all if people with poor sleep mount feeble antibody response to a vaccine then we can expect the same to be true when challenged by an infectious disease.

As the authors write, “Short sleep duration in the natural environment may negatively affect in vivo antibody responses to novel antigens, providing a possible explanation for observed associations of poor sleep with increased susceptibility to infectious disease.”

So while this post is not about dogs, it is about dog owners. Sleep well.



Prather AA; Hall M; Fury JM; Ross DC; Muldoon MF; Cohen S; Marsland AL (2012) Sleep and Antibody Response to Hepatitis B Vaccination. SLEEP 2012;35(8):1063-1069.

American Academy of Sleep Medicine (2008, June 10). Extra Sleep Improves Athletic Performance. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 9, 2012, from­/releases/2008/06/080609071106.htm

IOS Press BV (2012, June 21). Sleep improves functioning in Parkinson’s patients, but reasons remain elusive. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 9, 2012, from­/releases/2012/06/120621125940.htm

Kato M, Phillips BG, Sigurdsson G, Narkiewicz K, Pesek CA, Somers VK. (2000) Effects of sleep deprivation on neural circulatory control. Hypertension. 2000 May;35(5):1173-5.

Mullington JM, Haack M, Toth M, Serrador JM, Meier-Ewert HK.(2009) Cardiovascular, inflammatory, and metabolic consequences of sleep deprivation. Prog Cardiovasc Dis. 2009 Jan-Feb;51(4):294-302.


2 thoughts on “Sleep Matters When it Comes to Vaccinations

  1. Very interesting that lack of sleep would translate to the effectiveness of protection by vaccine. I am betting this type of study expands beyond, into other areas concerning lack of sufficient sleep. Just the studies you noted, show the wide range of bodily functions affected.

    • Indeed. You can generalize this findings to the fact that lack of sleep inhibits proper immune response… and of course that affects nearly every aspect of your health

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