Autoimmune rheumatic disease and sleep: a review

Curr Opin Pulm Med. 2015 Nov;21(6):553-6. doi: 10.1097/MCP.0000000000000215.


Purpose of review: Sleep has an important role to play in the human immune system and it is critical in the restoration and maintenance of homeostasis. Sleep deprivation and disorders may have a profound impact on health, well being and the ability to resist infection. Autoimmune rheumatic diseases are multisystem disorders that involve complicated hormonal and immunological pathophysiology. Previous studies have suggested that sleep deprivation may lead to immunological disturbance in experimental mouse models.

Recent findings: Sleep disorders may trigger immune system abnormalities inducing autoantibody production, possibly leading to the development of autoimmune disease such as systemic lupus erythematosus, scleroderma or rheumatoid arthritis. Indeed, in experimental models, it has been suggested that sleep deprivation may induce the onset of autoimmune disease.

Summary: Chronic deprivation of sleep is common in modern society and has been seen in various autoimmune inflammatory rheumatic diseases. We have reviewed various aspects of sleep deprivation and sleep apnoea syndrome, and their effects on the immune system and their relevance to autoimmune diseases. We hope that these data will encourage greater awareness of the role that improved sleep hygiene may play in the management of these rheumatic diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Humans
  • Rheumatic Diseases / immunology*
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / complications
  • Sleep Deprivation / complications
  • Sleep*