What happens when you don't get enough sleep? Blood samples show heart risks.

How much sleep do I need? Cutting sleep short on a regular basis may harm immune stem cells, potentially increasing the risk of inflammation and heart disease.

Cutting sleep short on a regular basis may harm immune stem cells, potentially increasing the risk of inflammatory disorders and heart disease, a small new study suggests.

An analysis of blood samples from 14 healthy volunteers who agreed to have their sleep shortened by 1½ hours each night for six weeks revealed long-term changes in the way these stem cells behaved, leading to a proliferation of the white blood cells that can spark inflammation, according to the report published Wednesday in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

“The key message from this study is that sleep lessens inflammation and loss of sleep increases inflammation,” said study co-author Filip Swirski, the director of the Cardiovascular Research Institute at Icahn Mount Sinai in New York. “In subjects who had undergone sleep restriction, the number of immune cells circulating in the blood was higher. These cells are key players in inflammation.”

While a certain amount of inflammation is needed to fight infections and to heal wounds, too much can be harmful, he explained. Overabundant, persistent inflammation has been linked to heart disease and neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s, he added.

To look at the impact of restricted sleep on the immune system, Swirski and his colleagues conducted experiments in humans and in mice.

https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/happens-dont-get-enough-sleep-heart-immune-risks-rcna48734


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