Every time I have holidays I tend to go to bed super late… even until 6 am sometimes. Sleeping late causes my natural circadian rhythm to be off, and I tend to flare-up like crazy. Another bigger issue are the possible health issues.
Sleep, Eczema and Health Issues
Eczema is known to be associated with having more disturbed sleep compared to groups with no Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema), resulting to lower quality of life and increase risk of cardiovascular diseases (Silverberg & Greenland, 2015). Fatigue often occurs with disturbed sleep patterns which leads to regular daytime sleepiness or insomnia which is considered as a cardiovascular risk factor (p. 723). Among the Eczema group in this study, there was an increase health risk.
Some of the health issues that can occur are an increased risk of most chronic diseases, diabetes, weight gain, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases and mortality.
What is the Recommended Hours of Sleep a Day?
Recent studies have shown that these health issues (mentionned above) can increase from having both lack of sleep (less than 6 hours) and over-sleeping (over 8 hours).
It is recommended to sleep between 6-8 hours in order to maintain the hormonal balance.
Detailed Study On Sleep and Health
Sleep is somehow linked to our immune system specifically the cytokines, which affects the immune cells in our bodies (“hormones and cytokines participate in sleep regulation”1). “If sleep is altered, there is a disruption in the response against invading microorganisms… and immune response is capable of inducing sleep changes”2 or sleep patterns. This not a good thing!
Like hormones, cytokines are cell signaling molecules that facilitate communication among cells to move to sites of inflammation and infection (Mandal, 2013). In others word, they both have a role in the immune system.
Skin Ageing and Eczema Connection
It is common knowledge that lack of sleep can cause an increase in skin ageing. This issue connects to our eczema and affects us very negatively. A big issue is the reduction in our skin cells’ lifespan and the decrease in our body’s ability to regenerate the skin effectively.
Our skin tends to flake off more than the average person every time we sleep, so basically we are sleeping in our own pile of dead skin every night. This may contribute to our itching problem in the morning when waking up from our beds.
Children & Eczema
Interestingly, disturbed sleep may affect children with moderate to severe eczema in terms of having lower academic performance, impaired memory, reduce attention span and possibly lower IQ (Camfferman, Kennedy, Gold, Simpson, & Lushington, 2013). Of course this depends on the severity of their eczema.
Disturbed sleep relates to the intense itching and scratching that may keep these kids up during the night, so their quality of sleep is not so great. Camfferman et al. (2013) states that the prevalence of eczema among children increases with maximal brain growth. This may possibly mean the end of myelination of the brain by the age of 14 or during adolescence (MyBrainFacts.com, n.d). Perhaps that may be why my eczema seems to have slowed during my adolescence before I hit rock bottom in my early 20s with eczema coming back with a vengeance.
Researchers are focusing on appropriate treatment intervention for these children in hopes to reverse sleep fragmentation that so many Eczema sufferers experience (Camfferman et al., 2013).
As a health professional, researcher and eczema sufferer, I am planning to write many more personal tips on how to reduce these risk factors for upcoming articles this year.