Sleep may alter immune system functioning; depression may play additional role

August 8, 2013

If sleep is interrupted, it may interfere with normal immune system functioning and lead to unwanted pregnancy outcomes. In addition, depression may play a role in how sleep affects the immune system. These findings were reported in Psychosomatic Medicine.

 

If sleep is interrupted, it may interfere with normal immune system functioning and lead to unwanted pregnancy outcomes. In addition, depression may play a role in how sleep affects the immune system. These findings were reported in Psychosomatic Medicine.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh looked at whether disturbed sleep was related to inflammatory cytokines and risk of unwanted pregnancy outcomes. They also studied whether depression influenced the sleep-cytokine association and ultimately contributed further to risk of unwanted outcomes.

The study cohort (n=168) included both depressed and nondepressed pregnant women who were interviewed for sleep patterns and in whom plasma cytokine concentrations were measured at 20 and 30 weeks’ gestation. Outcomes assessed included preterm birth, birth weight, and peripartum events.

Among  those who were depressed, shorter sleep (<7 hours) was tied to higher interleukin-8 (IL-8) across time, poor sleep (<85%) was linked with higher IL-6, and daytime naps were related to higher tumor necrosis factor α. Factors related to poor sleep were linked to a potential for lower birth weight. In addition, in women who were depressed,  interferon-y increased risk of preterm birth.

Principal author Michele Okun, PhD, said that the primary focus of the research was fostering “a dialogue between ob/gyns and patients about sleep and sleep disruption. As with depression, a couple questions are all that is needed to begin the dialogue. If the woman complains of sleep and it is affecting her daytime functioning or if she does not ‘feel’ well then a deeper probe should be made into the sleep patterns. A diary is an easy and effective way to get an idea of how good or bad the sleep is.”  The study results, the researchers said, suggest a need for future evaluations of an association between disturbed sleep and inflammation in pregnant women.
 

 

 

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