Temporal Links Between Self-Reported Sleep and Antibody Responses to the Influenza Vaccine



Growing evidence suggests that sleep plays an important role in immunological memory, including antibody responses to vaccination. However, much of the prior research has been carried out in the laboratory limiting the generalizability of the findings. Furthermore, no study has sought to identify sensitive periods prior to or after vaccination where sleep may have a stronger influence on antibody responses.


Eighty-three healthy young adults completed 13 days of sleep diaries and received the trivalent influenza vaccine on day 3 of the study. Measures of self-reported sleep duration, sleep efficiency, and subjective sleep quality were assessed on each day. Antibody levels to the influenza viral strains were quantified at baseline and 1 and 4 months following influenza vaccination.


Shorter sleep duration, averaged over the collection period, was associated with fewer antibodies to the A/New Caledonia viral strain 1 and 4 months later, independent of baseline antibodies, age, sex, and cohort year. Analyses focused on nightly sleep on the days preceding and after the vaccination revealed that shorter sleep duration on the two nights before the vaccination predicted fewer antibodies 1 and 4 months later. Measures of self-reported sleep efficiency and subjective quality were unrelated to antibody responses to the influenza vaccination.


These findings provide further support for an association between sleep duration and antibody responses to the influenza vaccine and suggest that perhaps sleep on nights prior to vaccination are critical. If replicated, these findings may support sleep as a target for enhancing vaccination efficacy.

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This research was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (MH50430) and supplemental funding from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Socioeconomic Status and Health. It was facilitated by grants from the National, Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to the Pittsburgh Mind-Body Center (HL65111 and HL65112). Dr. Prather’s contribution was supported by a grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (HL1420151).

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Correspondence to Aric A. Prather or Sarah D. Pressman.

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Prather, A.A., Pressman, S.D., Miller, G.E. et al. Temporal Links Between Self-Reported Sleep and Antibody Responses to the Influenza Vaccine. Int.J. Behav. Med. 28, 151–158 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12529-020-09879-4

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  • Sleep
  • Immunity
  • Vaccination
  • Influenza