Lack of sleep affects our ability to fight Covid-19

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Singapore, 20 March 2020 – As nations across the world battle against the spread of Covid-19, one behavior that jeopardizes immunity is the lack of sleep. Singaporeans, in particular, should take note. A survey performed in late 2018 confirmed that Singaporeans are not getting enough sleep.

The survey1 performed by international market research agency YouGov found that 44 per cent of Singaporeans are getting less than seven hours of sleep a night. Its head, Mr Jake Gammon noted that “demanding work” could be the cause of sleepless nights. He said, “In a fast-paced metropolis like Singapore, only about half its citizens are getting enough rest. What’s particularly worrying is lower-income Singaporeans are twice as likely to get less than four hours of sleep a night.”

Sleep and immunity

There is a science behind the relationship between sleep and immunity. We have probably heard this from our parents numerous times before: to avoid getting sick, be sure to get enough shut-eye – at least 7-8 hours daily if you are an adult. A research2 led by Dr. Aric Prather, a UC San Francisco (UCSF) sleep researcher confirms this. The study showed that “people who sleep six hours a night or less are four times more likely to catch a cold when exposed to the virus, compared to those who spend more than seven hours a night in slumber land.”

A lot happens in our bodies while we sleep. Sleep is essential for repairing and restoring vital systems that help keep our bodies alive. These include muscle repair, memory consolidation, skeletal protection and regulation of hormones responsible for growth and appetite. If we are not getting adequate and good quality sleep, our bodies will not recover and we will be more susceptible to illness. In regards to the relationship between sleep and the response to cold virus exposure, Dr Aric Prather explains that partial sleep deprivation reduces immune parameters critical to fighting infections.

In a study3 published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine last year by Stoyan Dimitrov, demonstrated that a good night’s sleep can boost the effectiveness of T Cells, a specialized white blood cell responsible for activating the immune system to fight infection. Together with a special immune system protein called integrins, T Cells bind to the pathogens and destroy them. Study participants who slept a full 7 to 8 hours had a greater T Cell activation, while those who lost 2 hours of sleep had a significant reduction in T Cell function. Sleep loss slowed down T Cell response time, thus making it possible for infections to get past the defensive barriers.

In line with World Sleep Day4 celebrated in March, with the theme Better Sleep, Better Life, Better Planet, Rilax wishes to emphasize the importance of sleep in boosting immune system in defense against illnesses. “Getting enough sleep is important more so now than ever before because it can help protect us against all kinds of common infections and viruses”, said Aileen Chan, Chief Executive Officer of LiveLife International (2002) Pte Ltd, the company that distributes Rilax, a natural supplement that improves sleep quality an promotes calmness, with efficacy claims supported by clinical studies.


  1. Four in ten Singaporeans not getting enough sleep
  2. Short Sleepers Are Four Times More Likely to Catch a Cold
  3. Gαs-coupled receptor signaling and sleep regulate integrin activation of human antigen-specific T cells
  4. World Sleep Day