This Is the Single Best Way to Defend Yourself Against Airplane Germs
There's no way to avoid germs entirely while traveling — but scientists say getting some shut-eye might be the way to ensure your body is better prepared to take them on.
A study published in February 2019 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine asserts that T cells, a type of white blood cell, are "critical to the body's immune response," and that they are better equipped to do so in individuals who get enough sleep.
Scientists are still learning how proper sleep contributes to staying healthy. A study published in February 2019 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine asserts that T cells, a type of white blood cell, are "critical to the body's immune response," and that they are better equipped to do so in individuals who get enough sleep.
The researchers looked into a group of signaling molecules known as "Gαs-coupled receptor agonists." These molecules, the team explained, can suppress the immune system. Whether or not they also inhibit the ability of T cells to fight infections was unknown previous to the study.
To see how the two interact, the researchers took samples from one set of volunteers who got a good night's sleep and from another group that stayed up all night. Without getting too deep into the biology here, the researchers essentially found that the T cells taken from sleeping volunteers showed significantly higher levels of "integrin activation than T cells taken from wakeful subjects." This means, those cells were better able to do their jobs at attacking cells infected with a virus to stave off illness.
"Our findings show that sleep has the potential to enhance the efficiency of T cell responses, which is especially relevant in light of the high prevalence of sleep disorders and conditions characterized by impaired sleep, such as depression, chronic stress, aging, and shift work," lead author Luciana Besedovsky said in a statement.
So, what does this mean for you? It means on your next red-eye or international flight you simply must shut off your television, close your computer, and maybe throw on some noise-canceling headphones to make sure you get some rest. That way, your own T cells can go to work protecting you from your seatmate's cough, sneezes, and grumbles.