Late night partying, working, or just waiting for Toronto Pierson Airport to get their shit together and let your frigging flight land? It’s taking a toll on your immune system.
A study published in Science found that a disruption in circadian rhythms might throw off production of certain types of T cells, which are part of the immune system. Scientists altered the light cycles of a group of mice by shifting their light/dark cycles by six hours every four days—which would be like flying from Canada to Europe, then India, and then Japan, spending four days in each. The mice with altered light cycles ended up with twice the number of a specific type of T cell (TH17) compared to mice who had a normal light/dark cycle.
TH17, which is found in the intestines, helps the body fight bacterial and fungal infections. However, when there are too many, these T cells cause a non-specific inflammation, which researchers note is the basis of a bunch of chronic disorders, such as heart disease, asthma, and chronic pain.
So, thinking of fixing your chronic sleep problem? Go camping; a previous study has shown that it works wonders on your sleep cycle.