web analytics

Exercise as a Strategy for Fighting Inflammation and Metabolic Dysregulation in Relation to Sleep Loss

A new study has found that high-intensity exercise can help counteract the negative side effects of insufficient sleep on the body. According to World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, proper sleep and adequate exercise help prevent over 80% of cardiovascular events, including heart attack, abnormal heart rhythms, and coronary artery disease. However, maintaining these habits is challenging for many individuals. While exercise is more controllable, sleep is complex and difficult to achieve. Fortunately, maintaining exercise habits while striving toward better sleep can still provide positive benefits.

The study collected data from over 92,000 adults in the United Kingdom between 2013 and 2015, who wore a wristband that measured how much they exercised and slept for a week. They divided nightly sleep into three categories: short (six hours or less), normal (six to eight hours), and long (more than eight hours) and divided physical activity into low, intermediate, and high, based on WHO guidelines. The study found that participants who slept too much or too little and did not get enough exercise were more likely to die from any cause, including cancer and heart disease.

People who exercised more than the minimum recommended amount of 150 minutes per week did not have an increased risk of dying, even if they slept for less than six hours each night. However, intermediate exercisers who did not get enough sleep had a 40% higher likelihood of all-cause death. While the study was observational, Dr. Jihui Zhang, director of the Center for Sleep and Circadian Medicine at the Affiliated Brain Hospital of Guangzhou Medical University, and his team emphasized exercise’s ability to fight inflammation, metabolic dysregulation, and sympathetic nervous system activity.

According to a previous study, muscle contractions during exercise release exerkines—molecules that can reduce inflammation associated with chronic diseases, including heart disease and diabetes. Inflammation in the cardiovascular system can affect blood flow to the heart and the tissues surrounding the organ, leading to serious health problems such as arrhythmia and heart failure. Exercise works to counter inflammation, regulate cholesterol, excess fat, and high blood sugar, all of which contribute to heart disease. It also stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, which impacts heart rate and the heart’s ability to pump with the correct force.

While the study did not specifically research whether or not too much exercise can have health consequences related to heart disease, cancer, and overall mortality, past research has suggested that too much exercise and not enough rest can increase harmful inflammation. The research found that intense, long exercise can lead to higher levels of inflammatory mediators and therefore chronic inflammation. The amount and intensity of exercise each person needs will depend on several factors, including age, whether someone is pregnant or has a chronic disease or disability.

In conclusion, studies such as this highlight the importance of being intentional about one’s habits. Dr. Tamanna Singh, co-director of the Sports Cardiology Center at Cleveland Clinic, suggested that “If you’re not already moving, now is a good time to add intentional movement to your daily list of things that are important to you.” However, different factors, including work, can make this difficult, so it is essential to find the right balance between exercise and sleep for optimum health.