Loss of Sleep, Even For A Single Night, Increases Inflammation in the Body

New study published in Biological Psychiatry

Philadelphia, PA, September 2, 2008 – Loss of sleep, even for a few short hours during the night, can prompt one’s immune system to turn against healthy tissue and organs. A new article in the September 15th issue of Biological Psychiatry, by the UCLA Cousins Center research team, reports that losing sleep for even part of one night can trigger the key cellular pathway that produces tissue-damaging inflammation. The findings suggest a good night’s sleep can ease the risk of both heart disease and autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Specifically, the researchers measured the levels of nuclear factor (NF)-κB, a transcription factor that serves a vital role in the body’s inflammatory signaling, in healthy adults. These measurements were repeatedly assessed, including in the morning after baseline (or normal) sleep, after partial sleep deprivation (where the volunteers were awake from 11 pm to 3:00 am), and after recovery sleep. In the morning after sleep loss, they discovered that activation of NF-κB signaling was significantly greater than after baseline or recovery sleep. It’s important to note that they found this increase in inflammatory response in only the female subjects.

These data close an important gap in understanding the cellular mechanisms by which sleep loss enhances inflammatory biology in humans, with implications for understanding the association between sleep disturbance and risk of a wide spectrum of medical conditions including cardiovascular disease, arthritis, diabetes, certain cancers, and obesity. John H. Krystal, M.D., Editor of Biological Psychiatry and affiliated with both Yale University School of Medicine and the VA Connecticut Healthcare System, comments: “The closer that we look at sleep, the more that we learn about the benefits of sleeping. In this case, Irwin and colleagues provide evidence that sleep deprivation is associated with enhancement of pro-inflammatory processes in the body.”

“Physical and psychological stress brought on in part by grinding work, school and social schedules is keeping millions of Americans up at night,” said Dr. Irwin, lead author and director of the Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology at the Semel Institute. “America’s sleep habits are simply not healthy. Our findings suggest even modest sleep loss may play a role in common disorders that affect sweeping segments of the population.” In other words, sleep is vitally important to maintaining a healthy body. And as Dr. Krystal notes, “these findings provide a potential mechanistic avenue through which addressing sleep disturbance might improve health.”

# # #

Notes to Editors:
The article is “Sleep Loss Activates Cellular Inflammatory Signaling” by Michael R. Irwin, Minge Wang, Denise Ribeiro, Hyong Jin Cho, Richard Olmstead, Elizabeth Crabb Breen, Otoniel Martinez-Maza, and Steve Cole. All authors are affiliated with the Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology, Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, University of California Los Angeles, in Los Angeles, California. The article appears in Biological Psychiatry, Volume 64, Issue 6 (September 15, 2008), published by Elsevier.

The authors’ disclosures of financial and conflicts of interests are available in the article. Dr. Krystal's disclosures of financial and conflicts of interests are available here.

Full text of the article mentioned above is available upon request. Contact Jayne M. Dawkins at (215) 239-3674 or ja.dawkins@elsevier.com to obtain a copy or to schedule an interview.

About Biological Psychiatry
This international rapid-publication journal is the official journal of the Society of Biological Psychiatry. It covers a broad range of topics in psychiatric neuroscience and therapeutics. Both basic and clinical contributions are encouraged from all disciplines and research areas relevant to the pathophysiology and treatment of major neuropsychiatric disorders. Full-length and Brief Reports of novel results, Commentaries, Case Studies of unusual significance, and Correspondence and Comments judged to be of high impact to the field are published, particularly those addressing genetic and environmental risk factors, neural circuitry and neurochemistry, and important new therapeutic approaches. Concise Reviews and Editorials that focus on topics of current research and interest are also published rapidly.

Biological Psychiatry is ranked 4th out of the 95 Psychiatry titles and 16th out of 199 Neurosciences titles on the 2006 ISI Journal Citations Reports® published by Thomson Scientific.


About Elsevier

Elsevier is a world-leading provider of information solutions that enhance the performance of science, health, and technology professionals, empowering them to make better decisions, deliver better care, and sometimes make groundbreaking discoveries that advance the boundaries of knowledge and human progress. Elsevier provides web-based, digital solutions — among them ScienceDirect, Scopus, Elsevier Research Intelligence, and ClinicalKey — and publishes nearly 2,200 journals, including The Lancet and Cell, and over 25,000 book titles, including a number of iconic reference works.

The company is part of Reed Elsevier Group PLC, a world leading provider of professional information solutions in the Science, Medical, Legal and Risk and Business sectors, which is jointly owned by Reed Elsevier PLC and Reed Elsevier NV. The ticker symbols are REN (Euronext Amsterdam), REL (London Stock Exchange), RUK and ENL (New York Stock Exchange).

Media Contact:
Jayne Dawkins
Elsevier
+1 215 239 3674
ja.dawkins@elsevier.com