A new study has found that just one sleepless night can trigger the key cellular pathway that produces tissue-damaging inflammation.
During the study, the researchers measured the levels of nuclear factor (NF)-?B, a transcription factor that serves a vital role in the body's inflammatory signalling, in 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
The assessment showed that in the morning after sleep loss, activation of NF-?B signalling was significantly greater than after baseline or recovery sleep, although they found this increase in inflammatory response in only the female subjects.
The researchers said that the new findings suggest a good night's sleep can ease the risk of both heart disease and autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis.
"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," said John H. Krystal, M.D., Editor of Biological Psychiatry and affiliated with both Yale University School of Medicine and the VA Connecticut Healthcare System.
"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," said Dr. Irwin, lead author and director of the Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology at the Semel Institute.
"These findings provide a potential mechanistic avenue through which addressing sleep disturbance might improve health," Krystal added.
A report appears in the September 15th issue of Biological Psychiatry.