Mar 14-20 Sleep Awareness Week: The Relationship Between Poor Sleep & Inflammation

The National Sleep Foundation commemorates Sleep Awareness Week every year at the start of daylight-savings time to encourage Americans to prioritize sleep to improve health and overall well-being.
Adequate and good quality sleep are crucial components for disease management in chronically ill patients, especially those suffering inflammatory symptoms.

Studies have linked sleep disturbance with higher levels of inflammatory biomarkers. Sleep disturbances include different sleep disorders such as insomnia, disturbances between sleep-wake schedules, conditions of excessive somnolence (DOES), and other sleep-related dysfunctions.

Watch the Video: The Relationship Between Poor Sleep & Inflammation.

How Does Poor Sleep Contribute to Inflammation?

Sleep deprivation can affect the body in numerous ways. For example, blood pressure drops during sleep, allowing blood vessels to relax. However, when you don’t get enough sleep or good quality sleep, blood pressure can’t decline as it should, which could trigger the cells in blood vessel walls to activate inflammation.

Sleep disturbances can interfere with the body’s response system, and high-stress levels can trigger symptom flareups in chronic disease patients.

Moreover, sleep deprivation interferes with the brain’s cleaning system known as the glymphatic system. Cerebrospinal fluid rushes through the brain in the deepest sleep phases, sweeping away beta-amyloid protein linked to brain cell damage. This cleaning process is less thorough without a good night’s sleep, allowing the protein to accumulate and develop inflammation.

Chronic Inflammation Affects Sleep

Some chronic disease patients face a vicious cycle of inflammation and poor sleep. Living with chronic inflammation means pain can make it challenging to get a good night’s sleep.

Additionally, inflammation can affect sleep cycles, reducing your time in REM sleep. REM is vital for many of the body’s healing functions. During this deep sleep cycle, the body releases endorphins that help control pain and growth hormone to help repair damaged cells. 

Tips for Better Sleep

If you suffer from chronic inflammation and have trouble sleeping, the first thing to do is inform your doctor. They may need to adjust your medication or dosage at night.

Next, examine your current sleep habits to identify problems that could be preventing you from a good night’s sleep.

It’s essential to develop a bedtime routine. Start by going to bed and getting up at approximately the same time every night. This way, even if you are struggling with inflammation and chronic pain, your body will adjust to the routine, and this will help you fall asleep faster and get more rest.

Remove electronic devices from your room, including the TV, computer, and phone. If you need to have your phone close in case of an emergency, place it in a drawer on your nightstand. Blue light from electronic screens can trick the body into thinking it’s daytime, making it difficult to fall asleep.

Adjust the temperature in your room to where you feel it’s the most comfortable for sleeping. Use blackout curtains or blinds to prevent light to come in from outside.

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