Current Psychiatry Reports

, 21:8 | Cite as

Links Between Stress, Sleep, and Inflammation: Are there Sex Differences?

  • Michael R. Dolsen
  • Alexandra D. Crosswell
  • Aric A. PratherEmail author
Sex and Gender Issues in Behavioral Health (CN Epperson and L Hantsoo, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Sex and Gender Issues in Behavioral Health


Purpose of Review

Inflammation has emerged as an important biological process in the development of many age-related diseases that occur at different frequencies in men and women. The aim of this review was to examine the current evidence linking stress and sleep with inflammation with a focus on sex differences.

Recent Findings

Psychosocial stress that occurs either acutely or chronically is associated with elevated levels of systemic inflammation. While not as robust, insufficient sleep, particularly sleep disturbances, appears to be associated with higher levels of inflammatory activity as well. In several contexts, associations of stress and insufficient sleep with inflammation appear stronger in women than in men. However, this should be interpreted with caution as few studies test for sex differences.


Stress and poor sleep often predict elevations in systemic inflammation. While there is some evidence that these associations are stronger in women, findings are largely mixed and more systematic investigations of sex differences in future studies are warranted.


Stress Sleep Sex Inflammation Immune system 


Funding Support

This work was supported by the NIH funding R24AG048024 (ADC, AAP), K01AG057859 (ADC), and R01HL142051 (AAP) and a predoctoral training fellowship T32MH020006 for MRD.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael R. Dolsen
    • 1
  • Alexandra D. Crosswell
    • 2
  • Aric A. Prather
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.Center for Health and Community, Department of PsychiatryUniversity of CaliforniaSan FranciscoUSA

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