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You doctor may have already told you how important it is to get a flu shot this year. But before you do that, there’s something else experts recommend: getting a good night’s sleep.

In an interview with CNN, sleep specialist Matthew Walker, PhD said practicing “good sleep hygiene” can make the flu vaccine more effective. The author of Why We Sleep says that not sleeping enough in the week before getting a flu shot can lead to the production of less than 50% of the normal antibody response. That would make your shot largely ineffective.

Sleep strengthens the immune system. Walker says, “Individuals who are sleeping less than seven hours are three times more likely to become infected by the rhinovirus, or the common cold.” He adds that “individuals who are sleeping five hours or less a night are 70% more likely to contract pneumonia.”

A 2020 study in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine supports what Matthew Walker says about the connection between sleep and the flu vaccine. So if you haven’t received your flu shot yet, be sure to rest up before you get it. Experts recommend between 7 and 10 hours of sleep a night.

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