Good sleep loads the immune system

Author: Cara Murez HealthDay Reporter, Health Day reporter

(Health Day)

THURSDAY September 22, 2022 (HealthDay News) – Make sure you get a good night’s sleep if you want to stay healthy.

This is the conclusion of a new study that shows that good sleep helps regulate a key component of the body’s immune system.

In particular, it affects the environment in which white blood cells called monocytes form, develop, and prepare to support immune function, a process called hematopoiesis.

“We are learning that sleep modulates the production of cells, which are the main actors of inflammation,” said senior study author Filip Swirski, director of the Institute for Cardiovascular Research at the Icahn School of Medicine in Mount Sinai, New York City. “Good sleep quality reduces the inflammatory load.”

Scientists investigated the effects of sleep in a clinical trial involving 14 adults. Each participant was assigned either 7.5 hours of sleep each night for six weeks or approximately six hours of sleep each night. They then had a six-week “washout” period during which they had a normal amount of sleep before being reassigned to a different schedule for another six weeks.

Researchers took morning and afternoon blood samples in the fifth and sixth weeks of both parts of the study.

What did they find? When adults didn’t get enough sleep, they had higher levels of circulating monocytes in the afternoon, more immune stem cells in their blood, and evidence of immune activation.

“Stem cells have been imprinted or genetically altered by sleep restriction,” said Swirski. “The change isn’t permanent, but they continue to self-replicate at a faster pace for a few weeks.”

This higher production of immune cells can accelerate the development of an age-related disease known as clonal hematopoiesis, which in turn is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

“Sleep contributes to the optimal function of almost every cell and organ in the body,” said Marishka Brown, director of the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research at NIH. “The mechanistic insights from this study support the results of larger population studies that have shown that sleep may be protective against a variety of conditions, including heart disease, cancer and dementia.”

As the study authors stated in the institute press release, it is important to establish healthy sleep patterns early in life. This can reduce the severity of inflammations such as sepsis.

Proper sleep for most adults is seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Older adults need around seven to nine hours. Children between 11 and 17 years old should be around 8 to 10 hours a day.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has guidelines for sleep hygiene.

SOURCE: US National Institutes of Health, press release, September 21, 2022.

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