Insufficient sleep is considered by the CDC to be a public health epidemic. Sleep disturbances have long been associated with all cause mortality and more recently with inflammation. A study in the July 2016 issue of Biological Psychiatry examined inflammatory markers and their relationship to sleep disturbance in sleep duration. Both inflammation and poor sleep have also been linked to depression.
C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin – six (IL-6) are inflammatory markers that studies have conclusively shown are associated with adverse health conditions including cardiovascular events diabetes and hypertension.
This study published by scholars at UCLA performed a meta-analysis of 72 different articles. The study found that people that report poor sleep quality or insomnia or sleep longer than eight hours had increased levels of CRP and IL-6.
The conclusion of the study is that both too little or too much sleep both cause inflammation. Although it is difficult to determine the exact right amount of sleep and it is impossible to guarantee perfect sleep the target they use for normal sleep duration is 7 to 8 hours per night. The authors of the study also suggested that perhaps sleep could have a similar adverse effect as a high-fat diet or sedentary lifestyle. They called on for targeting sleep behavior strategies to improve sleep quality.
I believe this study points out that is not necessarily the amount of sleep you get but rather the quality of sleep you get. Both too little and too much are problematic. This is particularly important to people that work changing shifts as this potentially creates another occupational hazard. More studies need to be done to look at sleep quality and what can be done to decrease inflammation.