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Anti-Inflammatory Diet-Part 5: Sleep and Inflammation

Anti-inflammatory Diet -: Sleep and Inflammation


It’s something some people really struggle with sometimes. Some people have trouble falling asleep, some people have trouble staying asleep. Some people can’t turn their brains off. Other people fall asleep easily and can sleep through a hurricane.

No matter what your particular issue is with sleep, the bottom line is that sleep is vital to good health. Our bodies repair themselves during sleep. Some new research is suggesting that too little sleep or too much sleep can both impact the inflammatory response in the body.

7-8 hours of sleep per night is considered a normal sleep duration. Researchers found that sleep disturbance (not sleeping well or suffering from insomnia) as well as too much sleep (exceeding 8 hours) were associated with increased levels of CRP and IL-6. A shorter sleep duration, of less than 7 hours per night, was associated with increased levels of CRP.

C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6)  are known to increase in response to inflammation, circulate in the blood stream and are predictors of health issues such as hypertension, cardiovascular issues, type 2 diabetes, and other inflammatory based diseases.

Why is sleep so important?

The effect of sleep on weight gain is believed to be mediated by numerous factors, including hormones and motivation to exercise. If you are trying to lose weight, getting quality sleep is absolutely crucial.Short sleep duration is associated with a drastically increased risk of weight gain and obesity, in both children and adults.

Poor sleep also affects the hormones that regulate appetite. People who sleep better, eat fewer calories than those who don’t sleep well.

Better sleep has been shown to improve many aspects of athletic and physical performance. Poor sleep has also been linked to depression.

Poor sleepers have a greater risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. A review of 15 studies found that short sleepers are at far greater risk of heart disease or stroke than those who sleep 7 to 8 hours per night. Sleep deprivation can cause pre-diabetes in healthy adults, in as little as 6 days. Many studies show a strong link between short sleep duration and type 2 diabetes risk.

Sleep can also improve your immune system. I know this is especially true for me. I can go and go and go….as long as I get sleep. If I start staying up too late, or waking up frequently (think teething babies), I know I am putting myself at risk for a cold, no matter how good my nutrition is. Getting at least 8 hours of sleep can improve immune function and help fight the common cold.

Sleep can have a major effect on inflammation in the body.

In fact, sleep loss is known to activate undesirable markers of inflammation and cell damage. Poor sleep has been strongly linked to long-term inflammation of the digestive tract, in disorders known as inflammatory bowel diseases (1, 2). One study observed that sleep deprived patients with Crohn’s disease were twice as likely to relapse as patients who slept well (3).

Along with good nutrition and exercise, sleep is essential to maintaining good health. Get some tonight!


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