The relevance of sleep abnormalities to chronic inflammatory conditions

Journal: Inflammation Research. 2007 Feb;56(2):51-57.

Authors and affiliations: Ranjbaran Z, Keefer L, Stepanski E, Farhadi A, Keshavarzian A. Section of Gastroenterology and Nutrition, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois. [E-mail: ziba_ranjbaran@rush.edu ]

PMID: 17431741

Sleep is vital to health and quality of life while sleep abnormalities are associated with adverse health consequences. Nevertheless, sleep problems are not generally considered by clinicians in the management of chronic inflammatory conditions (CIC) such as asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, SLE [systemic lupus erythematosus] and IBD [inflammatory bowel disease].

To determine whether this practice is justified, we reviewed the literature on sleep and chronic inflammatory diseases, including effects of sleep on immune system and inflammation.

We found that a change in the sleep-wake cycle is often one of the first responses to acute inflammation and infection, and that the reciprocal effect of sleep on the immune system in acute states is often protective and restorative. For example, slow wave sleep can attenuate proinflammatory immune responses while sleep deprivation can aggravate those responses.

The role of sleep in CIC is not well explored. We found a substantial body of published evidence that sleep disturbances can: n Worsen the course of chronic inflammatory conditions, n Aggravate disease symptoms such as pain and fatigue, n And increase disease activity and lower quality of life.

The mechanism underlying these effects probably involves dysregulation of the immune system.

All this suggests that managing sleep disturbances should be considered as an important factor in the overall management of chronic inflammatory conditions.

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One thought on “The relevance of sleep abnormalities to chronic inflammatory conditions”

  1. Bluebrush says:

    I have noticed the serious impact of sleep loss on my SLE and FM flares. I did not think about the flare causing the sleep problem, but it makes sense. It is a vicious cycle. I really don’t know what to do. Various drugs given to me haven’t worked and it seriously affects my health. Right now, I have been fighting constant flares: terrible pain, fatigue, fevers, hair loss, mouth sores, and sleep has been worse than ever. Of course, I take immune suppressants to control the most serious symptoms. I would love to learn how doctors successfully help us sleep! What have others done? Of course, I am raising 4 children alone, so I don’t have much available time for some things like meditation (which used to help), but I’d appreciate whatever you all might be able to pass on.

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