Stress, including sleep disturbance, is a major contributor to inflammation in the body. Insomnia is associated with increased risk for depression, medical comorbidities, and mortality.
A study involving 123 older adults (55+) with insomnia randomly assigned them to one of 3 types of classes: cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, tai chi, or a sleep seminar (the control condition).
Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia reduced insomnia symptoms and levels of the inflammation marker C-reactive protein, and reversed activation of molecular inflammatory signaling pathways. These benefits were maintained for 16 months.
Tai chi also reduced inflammation, reducing the expression of inflammation at the cellular level and reversing activation of inflammatory signaling pathways. It marginally reduced levels of C-reactive protein. Again, these benefits were maintained for 16 months.
Those participants assigned to the sleep seminar classes showed no significant changes in inflammatory markers, as expected.
Irwin, M. R., Olmstead, R., Breen, E. C., Witarama, T., Carrillo, C., Sadeghi, N., … Cole, S. (2015). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Tai Chi Reverse Cellular and Genomic Markers of Inflammation in Late-Life Insomnia: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Biological Psychiatry, 78(10), 721–729. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2015.01.010