Low Quality Sleep Can Lead to Inflammation

The journal, Biological Psychiatry, has published a new meta-analysis study that shows inflammatory markers present in those with long sleep duration and sleep disturbance complaints.

Dr. John Krystal, Editor of the journal, emphasized the importance of the analysis, which highlighted the fact that both too little and too much sleep has been linked to inflammation, which is one of the many processes that often contributes to depressive symptoms and other health concerns.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has long since warned the public that sleep deprivation is a big problem that is sweeping the nation.  The most common sleep disorders, like insomnia, have been found in previous studies to be linked to increased mortality rates and risk of developing an inflammatory disease.

Some chemicals or substances in the body will point to an inflammatory process, including interleukin-6 (IL-6) and C-reactive protein (CRP).  In addition to identifying inflammation, these substances can predict health problems like hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and other cardiovascular concerns.  While there have been dozens of studies to investigate the mechanisms that link immunity and sleep health, they are incredibly varied, making it difficult to understand the true effects.

What was needed was a systematic review of existing studies to find the commonalities between inflammatory markers and sleep.  This recent article by Richard Olmstead, Judith Carroll, and Michael Irwin from the Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology at UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience, did just that.  The scientists analyzed 72 published articles, which included more than 50,000 individuals from clinical and population-based studies.  IL-6, CRP, and tumor necrosis factor alpha were used as the primary inflammatory indicators.

Those individuals who were defined as having a normal sleep duration got between seven and eight hours of sleep each night.  It was noted in this meta-analysis that CRP and IL-6 levels were increased in those who had longer than eight hours of sleep each night and sleep disturbance, which is defined as poor quality sleep or complaints of insomnia.  Additionally, CRP levels were increased in those who reported less than seven hours of sleep each night.  There were no links to an increase in tumor necrosis factor alpha.

Mr. Irwin, one of the authors of the report, says that insomnia or other sleep disturbances need to be viewed as a risk factor for inflammation, similar to the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle or a high-fat diet.  Treatments should target sleep behaviors and hygiene as a primary strategy for reversing the inflammatory responses and reducing the risk of disease.

With physical activity and diet, Irwin says, sleep health may become the third regular component of a healthy lifestyle.

Reference:  http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/e-psh070616.php

Author: Rachael Herman is a professional writer with an extensive background in medical writing, research, and language development. Her hobbies include hiking in the Rockies, cooking, and reading.


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