A new study has found that when it comes to sleep quality, the timing is important, not only duration.
A study, conducted by researchers from Washington State University, United States, was conducted to evaluate the effect of shifting sleep cycles in mice. The researchers shifted the sleep cycle of the mice, so that they still got a regular amount of sleep, however, at a different time, which therefore affected the circadian rhythm of the mice.
They found that disrupting the circadian rhythm by changing the sleep-wake cycle did not cause sleep deprivation, however the alteration did disrupt the sleeping patterns of the mice. This disruption in sleeping patterns not only caused a reduction in sleep quality, but also resulted in changes in immune responses of the mice.
Previous study has demonstrated that disruption of the sleep-wake cycle can have effects on other physiological processes such as immune function. This study further supports the importance of maintaining adequate sleep-wake cycles and the effect that disruption can have on immune responses, even without sleep deprivation. This study has implications for those who are exposed to disrupted sleep-wake cycles, such as shift workers.
The authors state that further research is necessary to determine the mechanisms that are involved in immune dysregulation in the absence of sleep deprivation.
Phillips DJ, Savenkova MI, Karatsoreos IN. “Environmental disruption of the circadian clock leads to altered sleep and immune response in mouse” Brain Behav Immun. 2015 Jul;47:14-23. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2014.12.008. Epub 2014 Dec 24.
Image courtesy of Feelart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Written by Deborah Tallarigo, PhD