The Link Between Inflammation and Sleep

The Link Between Inflammation and Sleep

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that insufficient sleep is associated with a number of chronic diseases and conditions that especially threaten the health of the U.S. population, as high numbers of the population suffer from diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression. A new meta-analysis published in the Biological Psychiatry reports that getting too much or too little sleep also seems to be associated with inflammation, further contributing to depression and other illnesses.

The Study

A team from the Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology at UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience in California reviewed 72 existing studies, which included over 50,000 participants from population-based and clinical studies, in order to find associations between sleep and inflammatory markers. The analysis shows that poor sleep quality or participants who complained of insomnia (classified as sleep disturbances) and participants who slept more than 8 hours per night (classified as long sleep duration) were associated with high levels of CRP and IL-6. CRP is a C-reactive protein and IL-6 is an interleukin, both of which predict adverse health conditions like hypertension and type-2 diabetes. These factors were used as indicators of inflammation. Shorter sleep duration was associated with increased levels of CRP. No associations were found with TNF? Tumor necrosis factor, another indicator of inflammation.

In short, sleep disturbance and long sleep duration were associated with increases in these markers for inflammation. Short sleep duration was not found to be associated with inflammation.

sleep, inflammation
Image: Huffington Post

According to Michael Irwin MD, one of the researchers from UCLA, sleep disturbance or insomnia should be regarded as behavioral risk factors for inflammation, similar to the adverse effects of a high-fat diet or sedentary behavior. Treatments targeting sleep behavior could be a strategy for reversing the inflammation and reducing the risk of inflammatory illnesses. “Together with diet and physical activity, sleep health represents a third component in the promotion of health-span,” said Dr. Irwin.


Nicole Crane BS, NTP, Director of Nutrition at InVite Health, explains, “Once the [inflammation] flame has been lit, poor food choices, stress, and poor sleep patterns only fuel the fire. While we cannot always control stress or sleep quality, food choices and essential nutrients are entirely in your hands. The type of fat, the amount of sugar, and the form of carbohydrates you eat are some of the main determining factors in whether you will suffer chronic inflammation or maintain overall wellness. The good news, though, is that nature has provided us with several powerful inflammation regulators, like Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and krill oil, plus herbs like turmeric and Boswellia. These work by producing immune cells, so you can finally end the damaging cycle of chronic inflammation.”

Read the full analysis published in the journal Biological Psychiatry here!

Need more information? Read Nicole Crane, BS, NTP’s article, “Chronic Inflammation: The Slow Burn of Disease” by clicking here!

Need more information on sleep health? Read “Your Natural Sleep Routine by Dr. Millie Lytle, ND, CNS” by clicking here!


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