ISTANBUL

Sleep, exercise, and stress control are significant factors for a strong immune system, said Turkish scientists Monday, warning that sleep deprivation causes vulnerability to infectious diseases.

“Get enough sleep so that enough melatonin is secreted, do not smoke, do not use tobacco products, eat a diet rich in vegetables and fruits, exercise regularly,” Turkish Kidney Foundation said in a statement on ways to strengthen the immune system.

The foundation also recommended washing hands regularly and properly, as well as reducing stress levels.

“It has been shown that the immune system is impaired and vulnerability to infections rises in many sleep-related diseases,” said Dr. Derya Karadeniz, an expert on sleep disorders, stressing the role of sleep in body repair.

Experimental studies prove a strong relationship between the immune system and sleep, she noted, adding that in a study in which people who were only allowed four hours of sleep for four nights had much weaker immune responses when given the flu vaccine on the fifth day compared to those who had regular hours of sleep.

Timur Erk, the head of the foundation, warned that essential vitamins and minerals should be taken to meet the needs of people amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Healthy diet, exercise, stress control, and sleep … A saying of our grandmothers, ‘children grow asleep’, now applies to all individuals and has been proven by scientific research,” he added.

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