Sleep and Bacteria

John 11:11-12
“These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.
Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.”

When you are ill, you need sleep. And when you are sick you are usually sleepy. Medical researchers are now learning that it’s not accidental that illness and sleepiness go together. In fact, the relationship is one of God’s ingenious designs.

Early in the 20th century, scientists isolated what they called the S factor – the “S” being for sleep. Modern biochemists have identified the S factor as a biochemical that is released from the cell walls of bacteria when our bodies destroy them. This chemical finds its way to the brain where it induces sleep. It also stimulates the immune system. Normally, the body breaks down some of the harmless bacteria that live in our digestive systems every day. By the end of the day, enough sleep factor has collected in our blood to make bedtime welcome.

However, when we are fighting a bacterial infection, our body is destroying many additional bacteria and releasing a lot more sleep factor. That sleep factor is also stimulating our immune system to higher levels of activity. Researchers recommend that we give in to our desire to sleep when we are ill. Our immune system and non-dreaming sleep are closely related. In other words, grandma was right when she told us that we would avoid getting sick if we got enough sleep.

It’s no accident that bacterial infections trigger the body to react, not only to rid itself of bacteria but also to strengthen itself for the fight. This ingenious design is yet another indication that our Creator does care about what happens to us. That love is why He sent His Son to win our salvation on the cross of Calvary.

Prayer: Dear Father, I thank You for good health and the abilities You have given my body so that it can stay healthy. I pray that You would also help me stay spiritually healthy. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Author: Paul A. Bartz

Ref: “Feeling sleepy? Shhh! Bacteria at work.” Discover, April 1987. p. 12. Photo:

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