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Vasc Health Risk Manag. 2008;4(6):1467-70.

Sleep restriction increases white blood cells, mainly neutrophil count, in young healthy men: a pilot study.

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Laboratory of Experimental Medicine (ULB 222 Unit), CHU de Charleroi Vésale Hospital, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Rue de Gozée 706, Montigny-le-Tilleul, Belgium.



This study examines the effects of sleep restricted to four hours for three consecutive nights on blood parameters, known to be associated with cardiovascular risk, in young healthy men.


Eight young healthy men (age 24.5 +/- 3.3 years) were studied in the sleep restricted group. Nine young healthy men (age 24 +/- 2 years) were included in the control group and spent the days and nights in the sleep lab, while sleeping eight hours/night. One baseline night was followed by three nights of sleep restriction to four hours and by one recovery night of eight hours. Blood samplings were performed after the baseline night and after the third night of sleep restriction or without restriction for the control group.


A significant increase in white blood cells (WBC) (5.79 +/- 1.05 vs. 6.89 +/- 1.31 10(3) cell/microl, p = 0.03), and neutrophils (3.17 +/- 0.69 vs 4.24 +/- 0.97 10(3) cell/microl, p = 0.01) was observed after the third night of sleep restriction. Other blood parameters were not affected. No significant variation was observed in the control group.


Sleep restriction affected WBC count, mainly neutrophils, considered as risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Stress induced by the short term sleep restriction could be involved in this observation.


cardiovascular risk; cholesterol; men; neutrophils; sleep restriction

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