Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Counting Too Many Sheep?

Is it true that loss of sleep triggers inflammation in the body that can lead to heart disease and other health problems? If so, what can those of us who don't get enough sleep do to compensate?

Answer (Published 11/17/2008)

Some fascinating new research suggests that losing even a few hours of sleep can set processes in motion that lead to inflammation, which in turn can contribute to disease. The same study suggests that the opposite is true, too: that a good night's sleep lowers the risk of diseases that have an inflammatory component. Researchers at UCLA looked at levels of a factor called (NF)-kB, which is involved in inflammatory signaling in healthy adults. They measured these levels among volunteers after normal sleep, after partial sleep deprivation and after recovery sleep. Interestingly, they saw sleep-related increases in the inflammatory response only in women. The new findings were published in the September 15, 2008 issue of Biological Psychiatry.

Related Weil Products
Weil Vitamin Advisor Sleep Assessment - Restful, restorative sleep is fundamental to health and happiness. Learn how to address your unique sleep needs - take the Weil Vitamin Advisor Sleep Assessment and get your complimentary recommendation today.

The studies give us a better understanding of why sleep disturbance is associated with the risk of all kinds of medical problems including cardiovascular disease, arthritis, diabetes, certain types of cancer and obesity.

Sleeping problems in the U.S. are widespread and stem from all types of stress: from work, school and social demands. Americans spend billions every year on sleep aids. I think there are better ways to get a good night's rest. Recognizing that sleep deprivation is not a trivial matter and can damage your health should prompt you to think seriously about the steps you can take to improve matters. Start by following my general recommendations for getting a good night's sleep:

  • Check your mattress for signs of wear at least twice a year, and consider new pillows if yours aren't comfortable. A worn-out mattress can contribute to sleeping problems.
  • Make the room as dark as possible, and spend some time before bedtime in dim light.
  • If your bedroom is noisy, buy an inexpensive "white noise" generator that makes soothing sounds to mask disturbing ones.
  • Try my Relaxing Breath (you'll find instructions at to help banish thoughts that are causing sleep deprivation.
  • If you get up frequently to urinate and can't get back to sleep afterward, eliminate caffeine and alcohol. Don't drink beverages containing caffeine or alcohol within three to four hours of bedtime.
  • If you can't sleep, get up and read or do some light stretching. This may take your mind off the problem of not being able to fall asleep and help you relax so that you can doze off.
  • Consider using melatonin or valerian occasionally to help you fall asleep.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being in just eight weeks! Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food Pyramid

Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you and their corresponding answers from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here