Intraindividual Variability in Sleep and Levels of Systemic Inflammation in Nurses

Danica C. Slavish, Daniel J. Taylor, Jessica R. Dietch, Sophie Wardle-Pinkston, Brett Messman, Camilo J. Ruggero, Marian Kohut, Kimberly Kelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Objective Disturbed sleep is common among nurses and is associated with morbidity and mortality. Inflammation may be one mechanism linking sleep and disease. However, most studies rely on retrospective questionnaires to assess sleep, which fail to account for night-to-night fluctuations in sleep across time (i.e., intraindividual variability [IIV]). We examined prospective associations between mean and IIV in sleep with inflammation markers in nurses. Methods Participants were 392 nurses (mean age = 39.54 years, 92% female, 23% night-shift working) who completed 7 days of sleep diaries and actigraphy to assess mean and IIV in total sleep time and sleep efficiency. Blood was drawn on day 7 to assess inflammation markers C-reactive protein, interleukin (IL)-6, tumor necrosis factor α, and IL-1β. Results Greater IIV in total sleep time-measured via both actigraphy and sleep diary-was associated with higher IL-6 (actigraphy: B = 0.05, p =.046, sr2 = 0.01; diary: B = 0.04, p =.030, sr2 = 0.01) and IL-1β (actigraphy: B = 0.12, p =.008, sr2 = 0.02; diary: B = 0.09, p =.025, sr2 = 0.01), but not C-reactive protein or tumor necrosis factor α. IIV in actigraphy- A nd sleep diary-determined sleep efficiency was not associated with inflammation biomarkers, nor were any mean sleep variables. Shift work did not moderate any associations. Conclusions Nurses with more variable sleep durations had elevated levels of inflammation, which may increase risk for development of inflammatory-related diseases. Research should investigate how sleep regularization may change levels of inflammation and improve health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)678-688
Number of pages11
JournalPsychosomatic medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


  • actigraphy
  • inflammation
  • intraindividual variability
  • nurses
  • sleep
  • sleep diary

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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