Is there a Connection between Sleep and Inflammation?

Dr. Dan JensenOverall Health, Sleep

Dr. Dan Jensen
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Are you getting enough sleep? To feel well rested, protect your immune system, and enjoy great energy, you need to sleep between 7 to 9 hours every night. There is a clear connection between sleep and inflammation, so if you suffer from any disorder or injury that has caused an inflammation, you will struggle to sleep at night.

What is Inflammation?

Inflammation has a number of causes, and it is your body’s natural response to an illness or injury. Inflammation is your body’s way of defending itself against bacteria, viruses, or damaged cells, and it occurs naturally as part of the natural healing process. The inflammation, which can cause you a lot of pain and discomfort, is removing the harmful pathogens from your body.

A rapid inflammation, in response to a broken bone, or a viral infection, can cause swelling for a few days and dissipate quickly. This inflammation is helping your body heal itself, and it’s not a bad thing. However, if you suffer from a chronic and ongoing inflammation, it’s a sign that your body isn’t healing itself, and you’ll struggle with chronic pain and stress.

Inflammation Affects Sleep

When you are living with a chronic inflammation, you’ll experience pain that can keep you awake. Arthritic pain, for example, can make it difficult to fall asleep, and you may wake up in the middle of the night in pain. Experiencing pain can also make you feel a lot of anxiety, and when you’re stressed about sleeping, you’ll sleep far worse. Inflammation can even affect the sleep centers in your brain, and chronic inflammation from fibromyalgia can affect the functioning of your hypothalamus, making it very difficult for you to sleep at night.

Another way inflammation affects sleep is through your sleep cycles. Those with inflammation tend to spend less time in REM sleep, and suffer from a lack of deep sleep. REM sleep is extremely important for many of your body’s functions, and this restorative sleep is also critical for encoding new memories into long term memories. It is also during REM sleep that endorphins for pain relief and growth hormone for healing are released, so you’ll have a lot of negative side effects from not sleeping, and your body will struggle to get well. When you fail to get enough REM sleep, you’ll wake up feeling tired and groggy, even if you’ve been asleep for 7 hours.

The Cycle of Inflammation and Poor Sleep

If you’ve been sleeping poorly due to an inflammation, you may fall into a negative cycle between inflammation and poor sleep. When you’re not sleeping well, getting adequate REM sleep, and waking up refreshed, your inflammation is harder to manage, and you feel more pain, stress, and anxiety. This in turn makes it harder to fall asleep the next night, and you may struggle with insomnia.

Tips for Better Sleep

If you have a chronic inflammation, consult your doctor as soon as possible to treat the cause of your inflammation. You may be able to take medication to reduce your inflammation, and manage pain. Next, examine your sleep habits and sleep hygiene to improve your sleep. If you’re sleeping better, your inflammation will also be reduced, and you’ll find relief from this chronic swelling.

To sleep better, help your body develop a consistent sleeping pattern by going to bed and getting up at the same time each night. This will train your body to feel sleepy at the same time each night, and wake up at the same time every morning. Even if you’re struggling with inflammation and pain, your body’s routines will help you fall asleep.

Next examine your room, and make sure it’s the perfect place for sleeping. Remove the TV from your room and leave your phone outside. The light from these blue screens can make your body think it’s still daytime, and it will be more difficult to fall asleep. Lower the temperature in the room for the most comfortable sleeping, and put up darkening blinds to make your room cozy for the night.

Sound Sleep Medical

If you’re struggling to sleep, whether from insomnia, inflammation, or a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea, visit us at Sound Sleep Medical. We are committed to helping you sleep, and we’ll give you all the help you need to sleep consistently every night.