How / why does the human body rapidly heal during sleep ?


I’ve always been curious as to how the body seems to heal different issues primarily during sleep, for example I’ve had a few sebaceous cysts in my life and they’re always noticeably smaller when I wake up whereas while I’m awake I can’t generally tell if anything has happened at all. Or even say the dentist, had a few wisdom teeth pulled one tike and each consecutive day after sleep the pain / swelling has been reduced drastically.
I also have RA and most of the pain / swelling is always gone or reduced in the morning compared to the previous day / night ? In some sense it’s almost like my disease has been ‘reset’.

In: Biology

In short, the sleep cycle and circadian rhythm partly regulates the immune system. During the day, immune cells are searching the body for pathogenic invaders. At night, more energy is put into processes like healing and antibody production. It’s controlled by brain-body communication, hormone and cytokine signalling, and gene expression.

In addition to less time and energy being spent moving around and being awake, you also do not notice things while you are asleep. During the day, changes happen over a few hours are small enough that you might not notice, but being asleep for eight hours (plus however long before you fell asleep) allows those changes to add up.

It is similar to how you might not notice how much a younger sibling grows when you see them every day, but if you are gone for a summer, you will notice the change.

RA is a completely different story, but it may just be that laying down and relaxing completely allows your body to reset. Then, as you go through your day, mental and physical stress, as well as the movement of the affected joints, adds up to cause discomfort. It is a little puzzling, since RA is an autoimmune disorder, and I would think it would be worse while you are asleep, since your immune system can be more active, but it might be that with RA, it is joint movement that causes the immune system to attack. (Now that I think about it, someone I know with Crohn’s disease, which is similar to RA in many ways, also seems to be in more pain later in the day, and seems to be in better shape first thing in the mornings.)

Hopefully, someone who knows more about RA/autoimmune disorders and the effects of sleep on the immune system can help us understand.

There was a great book on this a few years ago, Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker. I haven’t read it yet, but it was hugely popular and influential, and as you might guess from the fact it’s a book and not an article: a LOT happens when we sleep.

I know less about the physiology, so maybe someone else can speak to that, but neurologically, it’s when your brain does its housekeeping and bookkeeping, basically. If when you went to bed, the day’s events were a big messy pile of papers on the table, during sleep is when your brain sorts through them all, throws out the junk mail, files away the important stuff (memory formation), even noodles on some of the unsolved items (REM sleep).

FYI insomniacs, meditation replicates many of the beneficial wave states and activities of sleep, so if you’re not sleeping well, try a few minutes of simple meditation if you can. Bonus: It’ll also potentially help you sleep better later.

When the body is not occupied with other activities—such as thinking, moving or digesting, other processes will get prioritized.

Immune and healing functions are particularly enhanced if you make a point of going to bed on an empty stomach.

James Herriot (British vet) wrote about a seriously ill sheep that a farmer wanted put out of his misery. Dr. Herriot administered the euthanasia drug to the sheep in a remote shed and left the farm.

Dr. Herriot returned to the farm a few weeks later for something and the farmer pointed to a sheep peacefully grazing in the field and said “remember her?”

Apparently the sheep was out for a few days and for whatever reason not buried. When the farmer finally went to do that, he found her alive and well…

Dr. Herriot’s theory was that the sheep just needed a break from the pain so that her sleeping body could work on healing itself.

If you know of the author/veterinarian James Herriot you might know he once tried to euthanize a suffering sheep. She slept for three days and woke up well. This was in the late 1930s and considered quite a discovery.


Wait the body heals better during sleep? I’ve never heard that before!


Pull Quote (more info at the link):

>**Promotes healing**
When you close your eyes and fall asleep, your brain can attend to other issues within the body. If there are areas that need to heal, the brain can trigger the release of hormones that encourage tissue growth to repair blood vessels. This helps wounds to heal faster but also restores sore or damaged muscles. While you sleep, your body can make more white blood cells that can attack viruses and bacteria that can hinder the healing process. Your immune system relies on sleep to be able to fight harmful substances. When you don’t get enough sleep, your immune system is not able to properly protect the body from infection.
>**Gives the body a break**
When you sleep, there are less demands made on your heart. Your blood pressure will drop and your heart will be able to take a break. Sleep also causes the body to release hormones that can slow breathing, and relax other muscles in the body. This process can reduce  inflammation and assist with healing.



Pull Quote (more info at the link above):

>Your immune system releases inflammation fighting cytokines
>While you’re sleeping, your immune system releases a type of small proteins called cytokines. If you’re sick or injured, these cytokines help your body fight inflammation, infection and trauma. Without enough sleep, your immune system might not be able to function at its best.



Pull Quote (more info at the link above):

> Sleep is vital to the rest of the body too. When people don’t get enough sleep, their health risks rise. Symptoms of depression, seizures, high blood pressure and migraines worsen. Immunity is compromised, increasing the likelihood of illness and infection. Sleep also plays a role in metabolism: Even one night of missed sleep can create a prediabetic state in an otherwise healthy person. “There are many important connections between health and sleep,” says Wu.

Hope this helps!

Nutrition is a minefield of conflicting advice. I would say you look into lowering inflammation as much as possible. Have that as your guiding principle and you will find it much easier to navigate this minefield!

The reason you may be feeling better in the morning may well be cos you are fasted. Fasting is great for fighting inflammatory processes, as you already know. Check out [Alan Goldhammer PhD]( – you may have already heard of him but he has had a lot of success treating people with water fasting. He’s published papers on correcting blood pressure with prolonged water fasting and I think you’ll find his work interesting.

I find it odd that your doctor would advice you limit fruit, but not talk about actual sugar. That stuff is everywhere and is very pro-inflammatory. It’s in sauces, all manner of processed foods, even sliced bread. The reason is so that it lures you in and keeps you buying. It’s addictive. All these food products are made to create profit, not to create health. With sugar being so prevalent everywhere, we need to be extra cautious of what we are putting into our bodies.

Bottom line: our bodies can and do heal themselves, we just have to set them up with the right conditions to do so.

when you are awake and moving, most of the oxygen in your blood goes to your muscles. when you are sleeping, your body is still and your immune system can receive more oxygen allowing it to heal your cyst (which is an infection). this is why rest is very important when you are sick (have an infection).

Thats what sleep is for , thats when your brain does poo and it goes to your blood system and its filtered.

Also pretty reasonable to heal shit when you are not moving like for example you work 8h maual labor and your muscles work all time , then u go sleep and body is getting repaired and making your muscles harder.