'Sleep deprivation reduces killer cells'

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Sleep deprivation reduces the number of natural killer cells which fight tumors and viral infections, a Turkish professor said, adding that a healthy immune system is your best bet against coronavirus.

"Healthy sleep is key for the proper functioning of immune system," said Levent Öztürk, a physiology expert at Trakya University in Turkey's Edirne province.

"Staying up for even only one night reduces the number and activity of the natural killer lymphocytes, which are crucial for the fight against viruses," Öztürk stressed.

Öztürk added that the natural killer cells provide defense against the infections and they do not distinguish between any type of virus that enter the body.

"They are the cells that are generally crucial for our immune system," he said.

Öztürk also highlighted that one of the most important steps to take the new coronavirus under control is "contact with less people."

He said the simplest way to do this is to stay home and work from home, and added: "At this point, the perception of house has to change for most of us.

"Perceiving the time we spend at home as 'holiday' or 'spare time' would cause disturbance of sleep routine."

He added that this may lead to spending more time in front of electronic devices, such as TVs and computers, up until late hours.

Referring to previous studies on sleep's effect on vaccination, Öztürk said insufficient sleep reduces the protection provided by vaccine by half in case of various diseases, such as influenza, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and H1N1.

He also advised to avoid daytime naps.

The death toll from coronavirus has climbed to 59 in Turkey.

After first appearing in Wuhan, China last December, the infection has spread to at least 175 countries and territories.

The number of confirmed cases worldwide has surpassed 480,000 while the death toll is over 21,500 and more than 115,000 have recovered, according to data compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.

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