How sleep can proctect your health

How sleep can proctect your health

How you can make use of the risks of COVID-19 as a chance for your health

Already more than 2500 years ago, Hippocrates – the forefather of modern medicine – pointed out that restful sleep is the best protection against infections caused by viruses.  Science has long since confirmed that our immune system is strengthened, especially during sleep. In order for sleep to really protect us in our daily fight against pathogens and especially against viruses, both the duration of sleep of 7-8 hours and the quality of sleep with enough deep and REM (dream) sleep are important.

A study carried out by the German university hospitals of Tübingen and Lübeck has shown that just three hours of sleep deprivation are sufficient to significantly reduce the function of important immune cells. These are the “T-cells” that are important for the immune system. These are white blood cells that are responsible for fighting pathogens. These results clearly show that healthy sleep can greatly assist us in our daily fight against viral infections.


It is precisely for this purpose that the team of experts at the Institute for ChronoPsychology and ChronoMedicine at Sigmund Freud Private University Vienna has developed the CORONA PREVENT programme, which shows how you can now strengthen your body, mind and family against viruses that appear in a changing environment.

This program guides you through the questions:

How can I recognize my own risk situation?
Which measures are useful for me?
What must I do to stay healthy in the future?

With this program we want to support you and your families to get through the crisis healthy and to use this crisis as a chance for your own health!

How healthy sleep can protect you from the virus

In a new study, scientists from the Universities of Tübingen and Lübeck have shown a mechanism that promotes the immune system through the sleep process. The team of researchers led by Dr. Luciana Besedovsky and Dr. Stoyan Dimitrov from the Institute of Medical Psychology and Behavioural Neurobiology in Tübingen and Dr. Tanja Lange from the Hospital of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology in Lübeck were able to show in volunteers that after only three hours without sleep, the function of the so-called T-cells, the white blood cells that are responsible for fighting pathogens, was impaired.

The scientists conducted a 24-hour experiment with test persons: One group could sleep for eight hours at night, a second group stayed awake for the entire period. During the experiment, blood was regularly drawn from the participants. In particular, the research team checked the binding strength of the T-cells to a molecule called ICAM-1 (intercellular adhesion molecule-1), which enables them to attach to other cells by way of what is known as adhesion. As the study shows, the adhesion ability of the T-cells was significantly reduced in the volunteers who did not sleep. This leads to a measurable weakening of the immune system.

The study thus impressively shows that people with an immune system strengthened by sufficient and qualitative sleep have a low risk of infection against viruses. This also applies to the current corona pandemic. This additional protective function is also very helpful in the event of an infection, as the organism copes better with it and a symptom-free or low-symptom immunisation can take place.

Source: Journal of Experimental Medicine

Prof. Dr. med. h.c. Günther W. Amann-Jennson

Sleep psychologist