Sleeping Through Infectious Disease and the COVID-19 Vaccine


Dr. Aric Prather discusses the pandemic, his research, and his presentation from SLEEP 2022 "Sleep in the Time of COVID: An Update on How Sleep Affects the Immune System".

While living in the midst of a prolonged era of COVID-19, investigators are still working to comprehend the impact the pandemic continues to have on various aspects of health. A presentation titled "Sleep in the Time of COVID: An Update on How Sleep Affects the Immune System" addressed this at the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (SLEEP) 2022 Annual Meeting.

Aric Prather, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Interim Director, UCSF Center for Health and Community University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) has focused his career on understanding relationship of sleep and the immune system.

In an interview with HCPLive, he explained that while he's conducted research that demonstrated lack of sleep (6 hours or less) was associated with a 4 times higher risk of becoming sick after rhinovirus exposure, there's not much information at this time on the relationship between COVID-19 or COVID-19 vaccination and sleep.

Currently, Prather and his team at UCSF are working with a large naive population for a study that began in March 2021. They've been able to evaluate various aspects of health by following individuals through the COVID-19 vaccination and booster process.

According to Prather, the aim is to identify psychological, behavioral, sleep, and biological predictors of who mounts and maintains protection.

"We got emergency funding from NIH and we just set it up," he said, "and we're on the radio, we were on television, we were doing anything we could to get people when everyone was racing to get their vaccines."

While Prather predicted there's likely to be plenty of research on how people respond to the booster shots, it was much more challenging to attempt to examine a naive population beginning with the first vaccine dose.

"I'm hopeful that we'll learn something about sleep and circadian science as it's related to vaccination response," he said.

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