Does sleep deprivation cause metabolic changes that set up a chronic inflammatory response, suppress the immune system, and leave one at risk for obesity and related diseases?
The Medical College of Wisconsin in
In work conducted at the
These changes, among others, point to yet unknown alterations in the regulation of the cells that make up visceral fat, which is increasingly recognized as an important and active endocrine organ. Aside from storing energy, it plays a role in a variety of biological processes, including immune function.
Current studies are focused on changes to how dietary fat is handled and how fat tissue is remodeled during and after repeated chronic sleep restriction. They are also looking at the extent to which signals secreted by fat cells may be modulating the immune system in favor of an inflammatory state. Functional changes due to hormones, inflammatory molecules, and obesity are known to be important elements in the development of several disease states.
“The body is expected to make adjustments over time to surfeits and deficits of basic biological requirements, such as food and sleep’ says Dr. Everson. “It has long been generally understood that sleep abnormalities are linked to disease progression and shortened longevity, but the specific reasons why this is so have been elusive. We are working to replace speculation with tangible medical evidence of the changes to organs and cells to explain why sleep restriction undermines health and impedes recuperation.”
Also contributing to these studies are