Sleep Disturbance Can Cause Inflammation – Research Has Found A Comeback

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By Justin Cowart 

Multiple studies have been able to show that sleep disturbance has been a major contributor of inflammation within the human body. One of the most common sleep disorders – known as insomnia – has also been associated with an increased risk for depression, mortality and medical comorbidities.

In a new study that was published by Biological Psychiatry stated that one treatment for insomnia, either a movement meditation called tai chi or cognitive behavioral therapy, has been able to reduce the inflammation levels in older adults 55 years of age and up.

University of California Los Angeles, Dr. Michael Irwin, who had conducted his own type of work along with his colleagues, said that,

“Behavioral interventions that target sleep reduce inflammation and represent a third pillar, along with diet and physical activity, to promote health and possibly reduce the risk of age-related morbidities including depression.”

For this particular study, researchers decided to recruit 123 different older adults that had insomnia, who were then randomized to receive one of 3 types of classes: a sleep seminar (or the control condition), cognitive behavioral therapy or the movement meditation called tai chi.

The researchers were able to find that treatment of sleep disturbance with cognitive behavioral therapy actually reduces levels of systemic marker of inflammation called C-reactive protein and even reverses the activation of molecular inflammatory signaling pathways. These benefits were then able to be maintained throughout the researcher’s’ study within the 16-month follow-up period.

What Exactly Is Tai Chi?  

Tai Chi is a type of lifestyle intervention that helps to target one’s stress, which can potentially lead to insomnia. Tai chi was also found to be able to reduce inflammation and was able to do so by simply reducing the expression of inflammation all the way down at the cellular level and by also reversing the activation of inflammatory signaling pathways. During the 16-month follow-up the reduction of cellular inflammation was also able to be maintained with Tai Chi.

The participants that had been assigned to the sleep seminar classes showed absolutely no significant changes in their inflammatory markers, just as the researchers expected.

The results of the study are now able to provide a type of evidence-based molecular framework to better understand just how behavioral interventions that are able to target sleep may actually be able to reduce inflammation and even promote health.

Editor of Biological Psychiatry, Dr. John Krystal, said,

“This study suggests that there are behavioral approaches that can improve sleep, reduce stress and thereby improve health. It is a reminder, once again, that there is no health without mental health.”

I strongly believe that Dr. Krystal hit it on the head by saying that we cannot have physical health without mental health – the two go hand in hand. There are still strong connections within your mind and body that you are only just starting to scratch the surface of.

Below is an awesome video that helps explain exactly what Tai Chi is:

We would love to hear your thoughts and opinions on this topic in the comments below!

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Justin Cowart

Justin Cowart

Justin Cowart is a writer and researcher that loves to learn more about health, life, consciousness and making the world a better place. He loves music, traveling, meditation, video games and spending time with family and friends. He believes in baby steps and lifestyle changes in order to live a full life. In 2014, he lost around 40lbs from baby steps and emotional detoxing.
Justin Cowart


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