Researchers gaining more understanding of sleep, sleep loss, daytime sleepiness and fatigue in healthy adults

August 20, 1999

HERSHEY, PA--New research from Penn State's College of Medicine shows that even one night of disrupted or missed sleep by a healthy person can drastically alter a person's chemical balance and cause daytime sleepiness and fatigue. The results of such sleep deprivation can reduce productivity as well as increase the chances of accidents at home or at work.

"Our previous research demonstrated that patients with excessive daytime sleepiness such as obese subjects and those with sleep problems, such as sleep apnea, had higher levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6) in the blood during the day. This new research shows that in young, healthy people who had no sleep problems, that IL-6 was elevated the next day when they were denied sleep," explains Alexandros Vgontzas, M.D., associate professor of psychiatry and a psychiatrist The Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. "We also know that excessive daytime sleepiness occurs in about 5 percent of the population, so a better understanding of the mechanisms of sleep could help millions of people."

Il-6 is a cytokine. Cytokines are proteins that act as regulators in immune function, metabolism and sleep.

Vgontzas and his colleagues' paper titled, "Circadian Interleukin-6 Secretion and Quantity and Depth of Sleep," is published in the August issue of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Vgontzas and his team studied eight healthy young men between the ages of 20 and 29. They were all in general good health, physically active but not excessively, had no sleep complaints and were not taking any medications. Each subject took part in the experiment that lasted seven days. Each subject spent four consecutive nights in the sleep lab and was able to have a normal night of sleep. Blood was taken every half-hour for 24 hours to measure IL-6. On the fifth night subjects were made to stay up and not sleep at all. They were allowed to sleep again on nights six and seven.

"As we had thought, the amount of IL-6 in the blood was greatly increased during the day following the missed night of sleep. Subjects secreted the IL-6 during the day rather than at night. Their bodies wanted to sleep so they experienced daytime fatigue," explains Vgontzas.

Another finding of the study was that light sleep was associated with increased amount of IL-6 during the day while a good night's sleep was associated with decreased day time secretion of IL-6 and a good sense of well being. This finding means that good sleep is associated with decreased exposure of tissues to the potentially harmful actions of IL-6 on the cardiovascular system and bones. In addition, this study demonstrated that healthy people with greater amounts of deep sleep are inherently more capable of tolerating sleep loss, possibly avoiding exposure to the potentially harmful effects of increased IL-6 secretion.

The National Institutes of Health and Penn State's College of Medicine sponsored this work.

Vgontzas and his team plan further sleep studies into IL-6, including testing agents that might neutralize the secretion of IL-6.
-end-
Leilyn Perri (o) (717) 531-8604 e-mail: lperri@psghs.edu
M. Steven Bortner (o) (717) 531-8606

Penn State

Related Sleep Articles from Brightsurf:

Size and sleep: New research reveals why little things sleep longer
Using data from humans and other mammals, a team of scientists including researchers from the Santa Fe Institute has developed one of the first quantitative models that explains why sleep times across species and during development decrease as brains get bigger.

Wind turbine noise affects dream sleep and perceived sleep restoration
Wind turbine noise (WTN) influences people's perception of the restorative effects of sleep, and also has a small but significant effect on dream sleep, otherwise known as REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, a study at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, shows.

To sleep deeply: The brainstem neurons that regulate non-REM sleep
University of Tsukuba researchers identified neurons that promote non-REM sleep in the brainstem in mice.

Chronic opioid therapy can disrupt sleep, increase risk of sleep disorders
Patients and medical providers should be aware that chronic opioid use can interfere with sleep by reducing sleep efficiency and increasing the risk of sleep-disordered breathing, according to a position statement from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

'Short sleep' gene prevents memory deficits associated with sleep deprivation
The UCSF scientists who identified the two known human genes that promote 'natural short sleep' -- nightly sleep that lasts just four to six hours but leaves people feeling well-rested -- have now discovered a third, and it's also the first gene that's ever been shown to prevent the memory deficits that normally accompany sleep deprivation.

Short sleep duration and sleep variability blunt weight loss
High sleep variability and short sleep duration are associated with difficulties in losing weight and body fat.

Nurses have an increased risk of sleep disorders and sleep deprivation
According to preliminary results of a new study, there is a high prevalence of insufficient sleep and symptoms of common sleep disorders among medical center nurses.

Common sleep myths compromise good sleep and health
People often say they can get by on five or fewer hours of sleep, that snoring is harmless, and that having a drink helps you to fall asleep.

Sleep tight! Researchers identify the beneficial role of sleep
Why do animals sleep? Why do humans 'waste' a third of their lives sleeping?

Does extra sleep on the weekends repay your sleep debt? No, researchers say
Insufficient sleep and untreated sleep disorders put people at increased risk for metabolic problems, including obesity and diabetes.

Read More: Sleep News and Sleep Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.