The Connection Between Poor Sleep And Chronic Inflammation And How It Can Affect You

Sleep is a very important aspect of life when you choose to deprive yourself of getting enough sleep regardless of the disadvantages it has on your body, there are lots of negative results that will come to you.

According to a recent study from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, chronic, inadequate sleep can have a deleterious impact on immunological cells, which may result in inflammatory conditions and cardiovascular disease. More specifically, the risk may rise if you continuously lose an hour and a half of sleep each night.

The study, which was released on September 21 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, is the first to demonstrate that sleep changes the DNA structure inside immune stem cells, also known as immune cells, which can have a long-lasting effect on inflammation and contribute to inflammatory diseases.

Immune stem cells are the cells that produce white blood cells, also known as white blood cells. Immune cells combat infection, but if their population rises too much, they overreact and trigger inflammation. The study is also the first to demonstrate that making up lost sleep does not undo the consequences of interrupted sleep.

“This study starts to pinpoint the molecular pathways that, over time, connect sleep and immune health. It demonstrates that disturbed sleep in both humans and mice has a significant impact on the programming and rate of creation of immune cells, causing them to lose their protective properties and even exacerbate illnesses.

According to senior author Filip Swirski, PhD, Director of the Cardiovascular Research Institute at Icahn Mount Sinai, “This is significant because it is yet another fundamental evidence that sleep reduces inflammation and, conversely, that sleep interruption promotes inflammation. In order to reduce inflammation and disease, adults should consistently sleep seven to eight hours every day, especially if they have underlying medical concerns.

14 healthy adults who routinely get eight hours of sleep per night were studied by a team of researchers. They were first observed by researchers sleeping for at least eight hours every night for six weeks. They took a blood sample and examined the immune cells.

Then, for the following six weeks, the same group of people had their blood and immune cells reexamined while sleeping for 90 minutes less each night. Researchers compared the blood and cell samples from the full night of sleep and the reduced sleep times at the conclusion of the study.

Lack of sleep caused significant alterations in immune cells (also known as hematopoietic cells) in all subjects, including an increase in number and a change in the DNA structure. After a six-week sleep restriction period, their immune cell count had grown.

Sleep in mouse models was also studied by researchers. For 16 weeks, groups of mice underwent sleep fragmentation, in which they were awakened periodically during the night. Then, for 10 weeks, mice who had sleep fragmentation underwent uninterrupted sleep recovery.

At the conclusion of the experiment, researchers collected immune stem cells and immune cells from mice during these undisturbed, fragmented, and sleep recovery phases, examined them, and compared them. Results in mice were in line with those in people.

They demonstrated that immune stem cells in all animals with fragmented sleep had significant modifications that resulted in an increase in the number of immune cells produced, as well as signs of rewiring and reprogramming. The mouse group made the important discovery that immune stem cells continued to make extra white blood cells even after sleep recovery, leaving the mice more vulnerable to infection and inflammation.

“Our research indicates that the impacts of poor-quality sleep cannot entirely be undone by sleep recovery. Even after weeks of recovery sleep, scientists can still see a biochemical trace of poor sleep in immune stem cells.

According to co-lead investigator Cameron McAlpine, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine (Cardiology) at Icahn Mount Sinai, “This molecular imprint can drive the cells to respond in ways that are inappropriate, leading to inflammation and disease.

It was unexpected to learn that not all stem cell clusters responded to inadequate sleep in the same way. Some stem cell clusters multiplied and increased in size, whilst other clusters shrank. Inflammatory illnesses and cardiovascular disease are significantly influenced by the immune stem cell population’s aging and decreased overall diversity.

The body’s natural response to illness and injury is inflammation. Your immune system activates white blood cells when you cut yourself or get a respiratory infection, and these cells release cytokines and other inflammatory substances that fight against invaders and defend your body’s tissues.

When this reaction is momentary, it works well as a protective mechanism. However, persistent inflammation can play a role in the onset of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Lack of sleep is linked to inflammatory markers, such as higher levels of cytokines, interleukin-6, C-reactive protein (an inflammatory marker that’s elevated in those at risk for heart disease and diabetes), and other inflammatory molecules in those who weren’t getting enough sleep.

Although these symptoms of inflammation could also be caused by other factors, such as stress, smoking, or obesity, they clearly indicate that sleep loss contributes to the inflammatory response. They may also contribute to the understanding of why individuals with poor sleep are more susceptible to diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic diseases.

How does inflammation result from lack of sleep? Blood vessels are the focus of one theory. Blood vessels relax and blood pressure decreases when you sleep. Lack of sleep prevents blood pressure from dropping as it should, which may cause blood vessel walls to release cells that cause inflammation. Lack of sleep may also change how the body reacts to stress.

Additionally, insufficient sleep affects the glymphatic system, the brain’s housekeeping system, and its ability to operate normally (not to be confused with the lymphatic system in the rest of the body). Cerebrospinal fluid rushes through the brain during the deepest stages of sleep, removing beta-amyloid protein related to brain cell destruction.

This housecleaning process is less effective without a full night’s sleep, causing the protein to build up and inflammation to manifest. A vicious circle then begins. A deposit of beta-amyloid in the frontal lobe of the brain begins to affect slower, deeper non-REM sleep. It becomes more difficult to sleep as well as to store and consolidate memories due to this impairment.

Even one missed night of sleep can maintain elevated beta-amyloid levels. The issue is not so much one bad night of sleep, which you can make up for, but rather a pattern of poor sleep that over time reduces the size, shape, and structural integrity of parts of the brain like the thalamus and hippocampal regions, which are particularly vulnerable to damage in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

What You Should Understand About inflammation.

Speaking with my patients has made me aware that many of them lack a solid grasp of what inflammation is and what it accomplishes, despite the fact that most of them are aware that excessive inflammation can be dangerous. Inflammation is a normal, protective biological reaction from the immune system to ward off dangerous foreign pathogens bacteria, viruses, and toxins that cause disease and injury, as well as to aid the body in recovering from wounds.

Acute inflammation symptoms, such as swelling and redness, fever and chills, pain and stiffness, and weariness, are indications that the body’s immune system is actively striving to eliminate a threat and is in “attack mode.”

We frequently discuss the risks brought on by inflammation. However, the inflammatory response that the body produces is vital to our survival and wellness.

When this normal, protective response occurs too frequently or at the incorrect periods, inflammatory problems arise. When there is no external threat present, the body starts to inflame, which leads to autoimmune illnesses. Instead, the body’s own healthy cells and tissues are attacked by the immune system’s pathogen-fighting cells.

Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis are three autoimmune diseases that might partly be attributed to an overactive, uncontrolled inflammatory response.

The main chronic and life-threatening diseases of our time—heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer—are also associated with chronic inflammation. The immune system of the body goes into constant combat mode when there is chronic inflammation, activating disease-fighting cells even while there is no external threat to contend with. The body’s healthy cells, tissues, organs, and systems can be attacked, worn down, and damaged over time by these fighter cells, which can result in chronic illness.

The same biorhythms regulate sleep and inflammation

We’re covering two of the body’s most intricate functions when we talk about sleep and the immune system. Despite all of our scientific research, there is still a great deal that we don’t understand. Although it is obvious that sleep is necessary for survival, scientists are still unsure of why we sleep. The human immune system is incredibly complex, and researchers are still trying to figure out how it functions and why things go wrong.

What do we already know

A shared regulator controls inflammation, sleep, and immunological function. Circadian rhythms, which control hormones and other physiological changes that lead us to alternate between being awake and asleep during a 24-hour period, control our sleep.

Those sleep-wake cycles we experience every day without giving them much thought? Our circadian rhythms are keeping us on track in the background. Sleep suffers when circadian rhythms are out of whack.

Our immune system, and along with it, our levels of inflammation, are likewise regulated by circadian rhythms. Normal immune function is hampered by disruptions in circadian rhythms. We have a higher propensity for unhealthful inflammation and a higher risk of developing diseases like metabolic disorders, cancer, and heart conditions.

Consistently following a sleep schedule is one strategy to assist in keeping circadian rhythms in sync. Our biorhythms depend on reliability.

Inflammation is triggered by insufficient sleep. Also, getting too much sleep

The specifics of the connection between sleep and inflammation remain mostly unknown to scientists. However, a substantial amount of research already demonstrates that getting too little sleep causes the body to become more inflammatory. Acute, protracted sleep deprivation, or conditions in which sleep is restricted for 24 hours or longer, has been examined in lab research, and it has been discovered that this extreme level of sleep loss promotes inflammation activity in the body.

Partial sleep deprivation, the type of chronic, insufficient sleep that so many people encounter on a daily basis, has also been researched by scientists. Numerous studies have shown that this type of regular sleep disruption increases inflammation, despite conflicting study findings.

You might be surprised to find that much sleep can also cause unfavourable inflammation. Over 70 scientific studies on the connection between inflammation and sleep were analyzed in a 2016 study.

It was shown that excessive sleeping increased levels of important inflammatory markers, including C-reactive protein, which is linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes, in addition to the detrimental effects of short sleep on the immune system’s inflammatory response.

The connection between inflammation and sleep is heavily influenced by stress

I’ve already discussed the strong links between stress and sleep. The common barrier to sleep is stress. It might be challenging to get to sleep and stay asleep during the entire night when you’re worried, on high alert, upset, and anxious.

In turn, lack of sleep increases our susceptibility to the negative impacts of stress on our bodies and minds. When we’re worn out and lacking sleep, we’re more inclined to descend farther into an anxious state. Many people get caught in a frustrating cycle where they end the day feeling worried, have trouble sleeping, feel fatigued the next day, and then feel even more anxious, which results in even more difficulty sleeping.

We are not only worn out and agitated as a result of this ongoing cycle of stress and lack of sleep. Inflammation can also be triggered by stress. Our bodies react to mental and emotional stress in the same way as they would to a dangerous infection or a direct physical threat biologically:

with a “fight or flight” reaction that modifies immune system functioning and intensifies inflammation. Chronic stress over time causes low-grade, systemic inflammation that compromises the health of our cells and increases our susceptibility to illness.

The saying that stress is harmful to our health is something we’ve all heard. Just what it entails and how stress causes disease by inducing inflammation are now being determined by science. Inflammation, chronic stress, and a number of diseases, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and depression, have been linked in a significant way, according to a 2017 study. Researchers present a relationship between a range of serious, chronic diseases and stress-induced inflammation as the “common soil” on which these diseases can develop.


With regard to this intricate relationship between stress and inflammation, sleep has a strong dual role to play. By preventing the pro-inflammatory activity that arises in the midst of poor, dysregulated sleep, getting enough sleep can directly help to control inflammation. Additionally, sleep provides us with a strong defence against stress, which is a known trigger of chronic inflammation and a major contributor to disease.

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