Insufficient sleep, such as sleeping less than 6 hours, has many negative effects on your body (see infographic). Above all, insufficient sleep, as well as poor sleep quality increase C-reactive protein or CRP concentrations in blood. In fact, CRP is a ring shaped protein whose levels rise in the presence of inflammation. Moreover, CRP is an indicator of systemic inflammation. In conclusion, insufficient sleep results in inflammation.
Ultimately, production of CRP is regulated by pro-inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-6 (IL-6) and interleukin-17 (IL-17). Actually, cytokines are small proteins that are secreted by cells of the immune system. And, the pro-inflammatory cytokines produce fever, inflammation, tissue destruction, also, in some cases, death.
First of all, insufficient sleep, such as sleeping less than 6 hours, creates stress. And, when you are in stress your body goes into a fight or flight response. Consequently, this causes the body to release the stress hormone cortisol. Moreover, cortisol’s job is to suppress non-essential functions like immune response and digestion.
Meanwhile, inflammation is the body’s response to a threat such as bacteria, virus, or even psychological or emotional stress. Therefore, in response to the stress caused by insufficient sleep, the immune system sends out pro-inflammatory cytokines.
Regrettably, when stress is chronic, the cycle of cortisol production and inflammatory response also becomes chronic. As a result, the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines increases.
This increase, not only hampers the body’s ability to fight infection and heal wounds, but chronic inflammation also increases our risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, and autoimmune diseases including type 2 diabetes.
Therefore, it is really important to sleep the recommended 7 to 8 hours.
Finally, a 1997 study published in the journal Sleep found that a night of insufficient sleep boosted stress hormones the next evening. And, these high levels of stress hormones in the evening makes it even more difficult to sleep the next night. So it’s important to get those stress levels down the day after a night of insufficient sleep. And the best way to do that is by sleeping.