Posted on: July 15, 2016 at 3:26 pm
Last updated: September 13, 2017 at 1:48 pm

This article is shared with permission from our friends at


Waking up after a truncated night’s sleep is a feeling we all know too well. Groggy, crabby, and caffeine in hand, we find ourselves floating through the day without our usual stores of brainpower.

But according to a new meta-analysis study, published in Biological Psychiatry, long-term sleep deprivation can do more than make us fatigued and irritable. Turns out, it can also cause physical changes in our brains and bodies and contribute to a host of chronic diseases and mental health issues.


The Link Between Sleep and Inflammation


Researchers examined scientific literature on the link between lack of sleep and inflammation, just one of the identified side effects of sleep deprivation. Based on a review of 72 reports, which involved more than 50,000 participants from population-based and clinical studies, they concluded that getting too little or too much sleep resulted in increased inflammation levels.

“It is important to highlight that both too much and too little sleep appears to be associated with inflammation, a process that contributes to depression as well as many medical illnesses,” said Dr. John Krystal, editor of Biological Psychiatry, in a press release.

Sleep disturbances (like waking up several times throughout the night) or having insomnia were examples of poor sleep. Getting less than, or more than, 7-8 hours of sleep per night has been shown to result in increased levels of inflammatory markers in the blood, like C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6).


These markers have been linked to chronic diseases like heart problems, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes, suggesting that poor sleep is a behavioral risk factor for inflammation, in line with high fat diets or sedentary lifestyles.

“Together with diet and physical activity, sleep health represents a third component in the promotion of health-span,” said Michael Irwin of UCLA, an author of the study, in the press release.

Past studies have mirrored the latest findings. In 2015, researchers found that sleeping too much or too little increased low-grade inflammation as well as a person’s risk of depression and diabetes. And women with heart disease may be at the biggest risk of sleep-related inflammation, a 2013 study found.

Inflammation is an immune response to fight infectious agents or injuries, but “it also contributes to the pathophysiology of many chronic diseases,” a 2007 study states. In other words, inflammation can protect the body, but in certain cases it can cause harm.

Plenty of chronic diseases are associated with inflammation, including asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and even certain types of cancer. Even depression has been linked to inflammation, though researchers still continue to investigate the mechanisms that are involved in inflammatory diseases.

Scientists now agree that there seems to be a clear association between poor sleep and inflammation, though more research will be needed to understand that relationship. It may have something to do with impaired immune system function, or many of the other effects of poor sleep on the body. To protect yourself from sleep deprivation, maintain a clean sleep schedule that allows you to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night.

For more tips on getting a good night’s rest, watch this video:

Medical Daily
Health Expert
Medical Daily is dedicated to covering health and science news that matters most to our generation. We cover a wide range of stories, but ultimately we are driven by two core values: first, to contribute to our readers’ understanding of what is a very complex and constantly changing field of information, and second, to keep in mind the ultimate "smell test" -- we want our stories to be the kind of things you talk about at a bar with your friends. Medical Daily determines coverage based on relevance, clinical significance, and editorial integrity. We give no priority to commercial considerations, and will always clearly distinguish between factual content, commentary, and opinions to avoid misleading readers with institutional propaganda and speculation.

A Special Message From Our Founders

Use Superfoods as Medicine e-book

Over the past few years of working with health experts all over the world, there’s one major insight we’ve learned.

You don’t have to rely on expensive medications for the rest of your lives.

Most health problems can often be resolved with a good diet, exercise and a few powerful superfoods. In fact, we’ve gone through hundreds of scientific papers and ‘superfood’ claims and only selected the top 5% that are:

  • Backed by scientific research
  • Affordable
  • Simple to use

We then put this valuable information into the Superfood as Medicine Guide: a 100+ page guide on the 7 most powerful superfoods available, including:

  • Exact dosages for every health ailment
  • DIY recipes to create your own products
  • Simple recipes