While we sleep, our immune systems release sleep-promoting proteins/peptides called cytokines. The body requires specific types of cytokines to increase if you’re feeling stressed, have an infection or inflammation.
Cytokines act through receptors and play an essential role in the immune system. They are moderating the balance between humoral immunity (release of antibodies that rapidly respond against toxins) and cell-based immunity (release of cytokines that permanently act against disease-causing virus/bacteria. Cytokines also regulate the maturation, growth, and responsiveness of other cell populations that respond to trauma, sepsis, cancer and reproduction.
The production of these infection-fighting antibodies and cells slow down during stages of sleep deprivation.