September 22, 2022

Study: Consistent lack of sleep impacts immune cells

By: Judy Mathias
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Editor's Note

This study from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York City, finds that chronic, insufficient sleep can negatively affect immune cells, which may lead to inflammatory disorders and cardiovascular disease. Immune cells fight infection, but if the numbers get too high, they overreact and cause inflammation.

The researchers analyzed 14 healthy adults who regularly slept 8 hours a night. They monitored them sleeping 8 hours for 6 weeks, and then drew their blood and analyzed their immune cells.

The same group then had their sleep reduced by 90 minutes every night for 6 weeks, and again had their blood drawn and immune cells analyzed.

All participants had an increased number of immune cells as well as significant changes in their immune cells, and their DNA structure was altered.

The researchers also analyzed sleep in mouse models, and the results were consistent with the results in humans.

This is the first study to show that sleep alters the structure of DNA in immune cells. The study is also the first to show that catching up on sleep does not completely reverse the effects of sleep disruption, the authors say.

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