The arrival of World Sleep Day at the end of a week that appeared to be a tipping point in the current coronavirus pandemic is a timely reminder of the importance of restorative sleep, reports Forbes.

We have always known that good sleep was essential to general health. In recent years, however, research has piled up, showing that sleep is even more crucial than we thought.

Summarizing that research in his book Why We Sleep, Matthew Walker asserts that sleep is the most important in the “health trinity” of diet, exercise, and sleep—and that it is “the most glaring omission in the contemporary health conversation.”In particular, Walker says, poor sleep “demolishes” our immune system.

One of the first sleep deprivation studies conducted outside of a sleep lab focused on 11 pairs of identical twins with different sleep patterns. The study design allowed researchers to separate the behavioral and environmental components from genetics, which account for 31-55% of our sleep patterns. Chronic poor sleep, the study concludes, virtually “shuts down” elements of the immune response. Even when given a vaccine, sleep-deprived people display a lower antibody response and are more likely to contract a virus when exposed to it.

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