Sleep depth and fatigue: role of cellular inflammatory activation.

TitleSleep depth and fatigue: role of cellular inflammatory activation.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsThomas, KS, Motivala S, Olmstead R, Irwin MR
JournalBrain, behavior, and immunity
Date Published2011 Jan
KeywordsAdult, Cytokines, Fatigue, Female, Humans, Inflammation, Interleukin-6, Male, Middle Aged, Monocytes, Polysomnography, Questionnaires, sleep, Sleep Stages, Sleep, REM, Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha, Young Adult

Individuals with underlying inflammation present with a high prevalence of non-specific co-morbid symptoms including sleep disturbance and fatigue. However, the association between cellular expression of proinflammatory cytokines, alterations of sleep depth and daytime fatigue has not been concurrently examined. In healthy adults (24-61 years old), evening levels of monocyte intracellular proinflammatory cytokine production were assessed prior to evaluation of polysomnographic sleep and measures of fatigue the following day. Stimulated monocyte production of interleukin-6 (IL-6), but not tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α), was negatively associated with slow wave sleep (ΔR²=.17, p=.029). In contrast, stimulated monocyte production of IL-6 was positively associated with rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep duration during the first sleep cycle (ΔR²=.26, p<.01). Moreover, evening stimulated production of IL-6 was associated with fatigue the following day (ΔR²=.17, p=.05). Mediation analyses showed that slow wave sleep, but not REM sleep duration, mediated the relationship between evening levels of IL-6 production and daytime fatigue. These results indicate that increases in stimulated monocyte production of IL-6 may be associated with decreases in slow wave sleep and increases in REM sleep duration. Relative loss of slow wave sleep may be one pathway through which cellular inflammation leads to daytime fatigue.

Alternate JournalBrain Behav. Immun.