All the benefits of sleeping during sickness are closely related to immune system.
Conserves energy – When the body is fighting illness it needs lots of energy that is best conserved by sleeping more than in normal times. The immune system needs all the energy it can forage to fight off any invading pathogens. Studies show that people who continue with their normal routine even when they are sick take longer time to get well.
Directs blood flow towards healing – Bodily functions like walking, movement, digestion or thinking involves blood flow. But when you are sleeping, blood flow is directed towards the immune system. The cells of the immune system – lymphocytes (T-cells, B-cells and NK cells), neutrophils and macrophages) – require nutrition and energy to help the body in fighting diseases.
Better immune response – Sleeping helps the immune system to do its job properly. When we sleep, the immune system produces cytokines, a type of protein, secreted in response to infections. Sleeping jump-starts the body’s immune response to diseases and pathogens by producing more antibodies from lymphocytes. Getting good sleep and rest increases the level of T-cells in the lymph nodes, helping the body to fight viruses and bacteria.
Reduces exposure to other microbes – Being sick means you body is weak and vulnerable to attacks from viruses, bacteria and other microorganisms as your immune system is busy fighting a specific infection. Sleeping in and staying home will reduce exposure to your body from potential diseases. Besides you will do a favour to others by not infecting them with your illness.
Increases antioxidants in body – The body produces alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), an organic compound with antioxidant properties. ALA has several health benefits as it counters oxidative damage caused by free radicals. During sleep the levels of ALA increases in the body, enhancing physical fitness by helping in the healing process.
Health experts have for long stressed on the importance of getting enough sleep for good health and wellness. In fact, studies have suggested lack of sleep as a factor contributing to ill-health, while getting daily quota of sleep as having positive health benefits. And in times of sickness, getting adequate sleep as well as some extra sleep becomes crucial for quick recovery.