Autoimmune Diseases and Sleep Are More Connected Than We Thought
In Russia, it is a sign of good parenting, when your child is napping daily at least until they turn 5. Mine did, growing up in the US, and the youngest one is now 5 and still naps most days. In our family, we have always maintained the importance of sleep, at least 7-8 hours for adults and at least 10 for kids.
A reblog of a great little article on latest sleep research as it relates to immunity.
New research out today in Science probes the underlying relationship between inflammation, autoimmune diseases, and sleep patterns.
Specifically, researchers looked at a type of T helper cell (specifically, called Th17) that lives in the gut and helps protect against bacterial and fungal inflections. Using a mouse model, researchers found that this particular type of T helper cell (remember, T-cells are involved in immune response) was influenced by a gene that is strongly connected to circadian clock rhythms. Basically, our sleep cycles, through a variety of genetic expressions, affect the production of these cells.
And, when the mice weren’t given enough sleep or their sleep cycles were purposely disturbed, they produced way more of the Th17 cells. This type of overproduction could be the underlying reason for some autoimmune disorders — specifically, inflammatory bowel disease.
It’s long been known that night workers suffer from a variety of symptoms that aren’t well explained. This inflammatory response to abnormal sleeping habits could be at least part of that equation.
The research is especially important in helping to expand scientific research in an area that’s often filled with nuance and confusion. Though it doesn’t tell us the entire story, it does offer a glimpse into our wonderful, complicated bodies — and what can happen when things go awry.
To your health,