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Tags: stress | sleep | loss | immune

Sleep Loss Jolts Immune System

Tuesday, 03 July 2012 01:44 PM EDT

Severe sleep deprivation jolts the immune system in ways that are similar to how the body’s defenses respond to extreme levels of stress, a new study shows.
Researchers in the Netherlands and United Kingdom compared white blood cell counts – key elements of the body’s immune system – of 15 healthy young men under normal and severely sleep-deprived conditions. They found that when the men were kept awake for 29 hours, the counts increased significantly, mirroring what happens when the body is under stress.
"The [counts] reacted immediately to the physical stress of sleep loss and directly mirrored the body's stress response," said lead researcher Katrin Ackermann, with the Eramus MC University Medical Center Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

The findings – reported in the journal SLEEP, published the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society – provides fresh evidence of the importance of sleep to maintaining proper health. Previous studies have linked sleep deprivation with obesity, diabetes and hypertension. Others have shown that sleep helps sustain the functioning of the immune system, and that chronic sleep loss is a risk factor for immune system impairment.
"Future research will reveal the molecular mechanisms behind this immediate stress response and elucidate its role in the development of diseases associated with chronic sleep loss," said Ackermann. "If confirmed with more data, this will have implications for clinical practice and for professions associated with long-term sleep loss, such as rotating shift work."

© HealthDay

Sleep deprivation hits the body's natural defenses in ways that are similar to extreme levels of stress.
Tuesday, 03 July 2012 01:44 PM
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