By Dr. Anuj Chandra, Advanced Center for Sleep Disorders
(March 4, 2021) — Now that Covid vaccination is rolling out more widely, it’s more important than ever for people to get enough sleep. The clear message from studies about how people respond to other types of vaccinations — that’s our best information, because the Covid vaccination is still so new — is that getting enough sleep makes vaccination more effective at helping your body protect you from disease.
Here’s how it works.
Getting less sleep reduces vaccination effectiveness. Studies found the flu vaccine is more effective when people get enough sleep for the two nights before they get the shot. People who did not get enough sleep for those two nights had fewer antibodies when they were tested weeks after they received the vaccine. Other studies have found the same effect in people getting vaccinated for hepatitis A and B.
Being overstressed reduces vaccination effectiveness. Being under too much stress means your body will produce fewer antibodies in response to vaccination. Having lower stress means your immune response to vaccination will be stronger. Separate studies found:
- When medical students were getting vaccinated for hepatitis B, the students who were most stressed took more time to build up a protective antibody response.
- When caregivers for people with dementia received flu shots, the caregivers had a weaker antibody response and their immunity decreased faster, compared to non-caregivers.
- When older people getting a flu shot were in a positive mood on the day of vaccination, they had a stronger antibody response to the shot.
And here is my advice to everyone getting the Coronavirus vaccination.
Get plenty of sleep for two nights before your vaccination appointment. Go to bed early, and do everything you can to make your sleep quality better. That means turning off your electronic devices for an hour or two before bedtime, no caffeine after lunch, and give yourself a few minutes to relax or meditate before you hit the sack.
Remember that stress and sleep are related. Too much stress makes it hard to get a good night’s sleep. Sleeping better will reduce your stress and improve your immune response to vaccination.
Anuj Chandra, M.D., D.ABSM, founded the Advanced Center for Sleep Medicine in 2005, an independent sleep medicine clinic equipped with the latest sleep testing equipment and with locations in and around Chattanooga, Tennessee. Since 2005, Dr. Chandra has served on the international teaching faculty of the National Sleep Medicine Course, a physician education initiative to bring cutting edge sleep medicine training to India. For more on Dr. Chandra and the Advanced Center for Sleep Medicine, visit www.sleepforhealth.org.