Consistent Lack of Sleep Can Damage Immune Stem Cells

A new study by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai has uncovered a connection between poor sleep quality and serious health risks. People who consistently miss out on an hour and a half of sleep per night are more susceptible to inflammatory disorders, cardiovascular disease, as well as weakened immunity levels.

Our immune system works hard to keep us protected from infection. This study is the first to show that sleep disruption alters our DNA structure in stem cells responsible for producing white blood cells. Its effects on inflammation may be long-lasting. Even catching up on some lost shut-eye won’t necessarily protect us against these dangers.

Researchers studied the effects that insufficient sleep can have on our immune systems. They had 14 healthy adults track their regular 8-hour sleeping patterns for 6 weeks, then reduce this time by 90 minutes each night over another 6 week period. They monitored any changes in blood samples and hematopoietic cells afterwards. Astonishingly, it was found that inadequate sleep led to an increased number of these cells as well as structural alterations to elemental DNA strands – indicating a negative impact from not getting enough rest.

Research into the effects of sleep on immune health took a novel direction with an innovative study utilizing mouse models. Mice were subjected to disruptions in their normal sleep patterns as well from 16 weeks of uninterrupted recovery. During this time investigators collected and analyzed both stem cells and other immune cells from each group. Results indicated that fragmented sleep induced dramatic changes in the mice’s immunity. It showed increased numbers of individual cellular components along with evidence suggesting some level reprogramming or rewiring had occurred, which was also consistent among human participants. This study reveals the powerful connection between sleep and immune system health. In humans and mice, not getting enough rest can cause a decrease in protective immunological effects which leave us more prone to infection, even months later.

Insufficient sleep patterns can have far-reaching effects on our health. The findings show that even weeks of recovery rest are not always enough to reverse the damage, creating a molecular imprint in our immune stem cells. Unexpectedly, this imprint affects some cell clusters differently than others – with some pools growing larger and other becoming smaller over time. The reduction resulting from changes in diversity and aging poses serious risks for cardiovascular diseases as well as inflammation problems.

These findings explicitly state why it is so important for adults of all ages to get 7-8 hours of quality sleep every night. This helps keep inflammation at bay while also protecting those with medical conditions against potential disease risks.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Sleep exerts lasting effects on hematopoietic stem cell function and diversity