Your sleep habits, as well as your management of stress and immune system health, all impact one another
Sleep and immunity are interconnected: insufficient sleep can have an impact on immune system health 
The ideal number of sleep hours per night to support overall health varies by age, with most people needing at least 7 hours of sleep
The effects of stress on the immune system happens when constant stressors, both physical and mental, impact your body's response 
Stressors’ impact on the immune system may lead you to experience more stress and disrupted sleep 
How well you manage your stress, sleep and immune system health every day will impact your overall health
If you've wondered about the impact of stress on your body and how sleep affects your immune system health, we have some clarity for you. First, it’s important to understand that your sleep, stress and immune system health are all interconnected. Broadly speaking, when you have disrupted sleep, you might in turn experience physical and mental fatigue that can then affect your ability to cope with stress. When you are stressed, your body releases stress hormones that can affect your body’s regular function, including your immune system. The good news is that there are ways to help your body by getting quality sleep, stress management support, and immune system support.
How Many Hours of Sleep is Good for the Immune System?
In a nutshell, getting adequate sleep helps to ensure you stay healthy. Check out the chart below for recommended hours of sleep as well as the potential side effects of not getting enough sleep:
Sleep is only one of many factors that can help support your immune health. When you regularly get the recommended hours of sleep for your age, you will likely wake up feeling refreshed and ready to face the day. Getting consistently good sleep helps your body be more mentally and physically relaxed each day, and rest is important for the health of the immune system. Did you know that you have two immune systems? Studies show that sleep contributes to the health of both your innate (the immune system you were born with) and adaptive (the immune system you developed with age) immune systems. While you sleep each night, your body is actively working to create new immune cells so that your immune system stays healthy. Conversely, adults who sleep less than six hours a night do not get the restoration that the body needs, which may have an impact on immune system health, which is why getting at least 7 hours of sleep per night is essential.
There may also be an association between the amount of sleep you get per night and what you eat. Recent research shows that those who get less than 7 hours of sleep per night tend to have inadequate intake of important immune health nutrients, like Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Magnesium, and Vitamin A.  Other nutrients, such as the Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA also have low intake in those who get less than 5-6 hours of sleep per night.  Not only is it important to get the right amount of shut-eye for your immune system, but getting the right nutrients is crucial, too.
With all this talk about getting enough sleep, we should also discuss oversleeping. While some adults might need more sleep than recommended amounts, consistently oversleeping (more than 10 hours a night) may not be good for one’s health. It’s best to check in with your physician if you feel you are sleeping too much and still not feeling well-rested during the day.
How Does Stress Affect the Immune System?
An inability to cope with stress in healthy ways can have an impact on your sleep and immune system. Everyone at some point experiences stress, which can cause physical reactions such as headaches, muscle aches, and digestive discomfort, as well as emotional reactions such as constant worrying, altered mood, irritability, disrupted sleep, and lack of motivation.
So, does stress weaken your immune system? Weaken isn’t necessarily the right term. Instead, during times of stress, the immune system may have a decreased ability to mount its best response when it’s activated. Additionally, stress can cause your body to produce excess levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which over time, can cause several physical reactions in the body. Many of these reactions can also impact your sleep, and lack of regular sleep can increase your likelihood of not feeling yourself, which can put even more stress on the body and certainly the mind.
What are the signs of a strong immune system? Everyone’s immune system responds differently, but all immune systems exist to help your body have a normal, healthy response when activated by foreign substances. Considering that sleep, stress and immune system health are interconnected, you might want to consider assessing your sleep habits and evaluating the number of stressors you encounter each day, as well as how you manage your reactions to them. The best way to help support your immune system response is to find healthy ways to manage stress and get sufficient sleep. Some suggestions include: 
Set priorities and try to minimize demands on your time
Try relaxation techniques like mindfulness, meditation, or breathing exercises
The Bottom Line
Stress, sleep and immune system health are interconnected. When one system of the body is disrupted, the other systems can also be impacted. It’s a good idea to balance your nightly sleep routine, stress management techniques, and immune health routine on the regular to stay healthy. Continue to check back on the Nature Made blog for the latest science-backed articles to help you take ownership of your health.
Learn More About Sleep, Stress and the Immune System:
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. “Stress, Sleep, and Immunity.” Oct. 18, 2021. Accessed on: March 25, 2022. https://www.cshl.edu/stress-sleep-and-immunity/
Ikonte CJ, Mun JG, Reider CA, Grant RW, Mitmesser SH. Micronutrient Inadequacy in Short Sleep: Analysis of the NHANES 2005-2016. Nutrients. 2019 Oct 1;11(10):2335.
Murphy RA, Devarshi PP, Mun JG, Marshall K, Mitmesser SH. Association of omega-3 levels and short sleep in US adults , National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey,2011-2012. Sleep Health. 2022 Feb 10:S2352-7218(21)00275-8.doi:10.1016/j.sleh.2021.12.003.
USDHHS MyHealthFinder. “Get Enough Sleep.” July 8, 2021. Accessed on: March 9, 2022. https://health.gov/myhealthfinder/topics/everyday-healthy-living/mental-health-and-relationships/get-enough-sleep#panel-2
Amy has an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University in Los Angeles and is a credentialed English teacher, though she left the classroom to write full time. She especially enjoys creating educational content about health, wellness, and nutrition. Her happy place is in the kitchen, and when not writing, you can find her trying out “kid-friendly recipes” and “healthy desserts for chocolate lovers” from her Pinterest board.
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