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Sleep Boosts Immunity and Recovery

Update Date: Apr 25, 2014 07:19 PM EDT

Having a good night's sleep may cure your cold. New research reveals that sleep helps strengthen the immune system and combat infections.

After studying animals, researchers the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found that sleep could even prolong life in people with severe infections.

Lead researcher Julie Williams and her team found that sleep enhances the immune system response and boosts infection recovery in fruit flies.

"It's an intuitive response to want to sleep when you get sick," said Williams, according to the Daily Mail.

"These studies provide new evidence of the direct and functional effects of sleep on immune response and of the underlying mechanisms at work," she said. "The take-home message from these papers is that when you get sick, you should sleep as much as you can -- we now have the data that supports this idea."

Researchers said the latest study is the first that took a traditional approach by making fruit flies sleep deprived before infecting them with bacteria like Serratia marcescens or Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

The study revealed that sleep-deprived flies had a significantly higher survival rates pre-infection.

"To our surprise they actually survived longer after the infection than the ones who were not sleep-deprived," said Williams.

Previous studies reveal that flies with more sleep were also better able to clear bacteria from their bodies.

"Again, increased sleep somehow helps to facilitate the immune response by increasing resistance to infection and survival after infection," said Williams.

The findings are published in the journal Sleep.

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