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Why illness makes you sleepy.

Have you ever wondered why fighting off a cold or flu makes you sleepy? Scientists say the drowsiness is related to functions of the immune system.

While you're nodding off, your pituitary gland is stepping up production of white blood cells to fight off invading microorganisms. Sleep helps the body manufacture increased numbers of helper T cells and killer T cells, which trigger an army of antibodies and enzymes that search out and destroy microbes.

Viruses and bacteria themselves are part of the process that makes you drowsy. Proteins in their cell walls can promote sleep, as can immune proteins produced by the body, such as the cytokines interleukin-2 and interferon-a.

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Publication:Mind, Mood & Memory
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2008
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