Controlled, experimental studies on the effects of acute sleep loss in humans have shown that mediators of inflammation are altered by sleep loss. Elevations in these mediators have been found to occur in healthy, rigorously screened individuals undergoing experimental vigils of more than 24h, and have also been seen in response to various durations of sleep restricted to between 25 and 50% of a normal 8h sleep amount. While these altered profiles represent small changes, such sub-clinical shifts in basal inflammatory cytokines are known to be associated with the future development of metabolic syndrome disease in healthy, asymptomatic individuals. Although the mechanism of this altered inflammatory status in humans undergoing experimental sleep loss is unknown, it is likely that autonomic activation and metabolic changes play key roles.
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