Sleep and Vaccination: How Proper Rest Can Enhance Vaccine Efficacy

Learn how proper sleep can boost vaccine effectiveness, including enhanced immune responses and reduced side effects. Read more for expert insights!


If you’re heading to the doctor to get vaccinated, you’re likely looking for every possible way that you can maximize your vaccine’s efficacy. Regardless of whether you’re getting a flu shot or a booster shot for COVID-19, sleep can actually play a pretty important role in the effectiveness of your vaccine. In this article, we’ll explore what some of the top experts in the field have said about this and what it means for you when you go in for your next shot.

We’ll discuss how proper rest can improve your immune responses, reduce your stress levels, and also minimize your vaccine side effects. As you’ll come to find out, prioritizing some shuteye before and after you get your shot can actually ensure that your vaccine protects you for as long as possible.

Improved Immune Responses

Sleeping correctly before and after getting your vaccine can actually improve your immune response to the shot. Instead of finding yourself feeling under the weather and pretty exhausted, sleep can help you regulate your immune function so you can get back to your daily routine without delay. In one study on the hepatitis A vaccine for men, researchers found that sleep promoted healthy immune responses because of the benefits of slow-wave sleep (Source: The Journal of Immunology).

The reason that this is the case is because of one of sleep's main functions: to support your immune system and to repair any cells that may have been hurt recently. When you take a nap or lie down to sleep for the night, your body consistently protects your immunity, supporting your T and B cells, which are significant parts of your immune responses. So, next time your doctor says to take a nap after a vaccine, you should do so so you can reap the benefits of a robust immune system!

Enhanced Antibody Production

Not only can sleep help you with your immune responses by improving them but sleeping has also been associated with enhanced antibody production. Antibodies are crucial—especially since you have just been vaccinated. These are your defenders from the diseases that you're being vaccinated against, like the flu, hepatitis, or even COVID-19. One study proved that following vaccination, those who got restful sleep for up to 10 days after immunization actually saw a higher antibody count as compared to those who did not.

That means that if you prioritize rest and recovery following your shot, you're more likely to have a more robust defense against these pesky diseases you've been vaccinated against. However, it's important to note that this might be short-lived, as the same study showed that this was only the case until week four, when the antibody counts between participants—regardless of sleep efficacy—were nearly identical.

Reduced Psychological Stress

Following vaccination, prioritizing rest can be beneficial not only because of the immune benefit and the antibody production initially, but also because of how it limits psychological stress. While this might not be your first thought when considering the benefits of sleep to vaccination, there’s plenty of proof to show that this is true, and you, too, might experience less stress if you ensure adequate sleep after you’re vaccinated.

A study published in Sleep showed that perceived psychological stress was higher for those who struggled to get enough sleep after they received their vaccination. Their study looked at participant responses over a week and even up to three weeks, all showing that their perceived stress was higher because of their lack of rest.

What this means is that they potentially thought they were more stressed—or even felt so—because they did not get enough rest. However, you shouldn't just ensure you get enough rest after you vaccinate for this reason, as sleep can also ensure you have more extended vaccine protection and minimal side effects.

Extended Duration of Vaccine Protection

Similar to what we discussed with increased antibody protection due to sleep, you may also experience greater vaccine protection in the long term as a result of your prioritization of rest. This goes for multiple vaccines and not just COVID-19 or the flu shot, which is great news for all of us! One study specifically on COVID-19 vaccination proved that those who got more incredible sleep had more antibodies even up to four months after their initial vaccination.

Sleep on the night after initial vaccination actually led to a surge in vaccine protection that was not present in those who had less sleep, even marginally (Source: PubMed). So, if you sleep well in the long term after getting your shot, you’ll rest assured knowing that you’re protected for a longer time frame.

Minimal Vaccine Side Effects

As you might have expected, because sleep is associated with better immune response, you’re also less likely to experience vaccine side effects. If you struggle with headaches, flu-like illnesses, or achiness after getting a shot, sleep can actually help limit this for you. In the case of the COVID-19 vaccine, you may also even find yourself more likely to want to sleep more than usual (Source: PubMed).

While some people have reported that a side effect of the COVID-19 shot is the fact that people are sleepy, this can actually work in your favor. As your body rests, you’ll be able to avoid some of the most unpleasant side effects that vaccines may have, including increased inflammation, illness or symptoms that present like an illness, and more. That means that the more you rest, the more likely you are to potentially even sleep off the undesirable effects of your latest immune protection.

Promote Your Overall Health by Sleeping After Vaccinations

Resting after getting a shot isn't just something nice that the doctor tells you, but something that is well worth your while. With improved immune responses, better antibody production, and even the potential to limit your side effects, you'll see precisely why so many people find themselves curling up with their favorite book and taking a snooze. So, next time you head to the doctor, don't be afraid to take even a little cat nap after you get your latest vaccination.


Written by

Marie Soukup

Marie Soukup is a seasoned copywriter, editor, and Integrative Nutrition Health Coach with a certificate from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN). With years of experience working with brands across diverse industries, Marie is passionate about holistic health and crafting compelling content.

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