News Release

Low-dose aspirin reduces inflammation caused by sleep loss

Study finds that low-dose acetylsalicylic acid mitigates the inflammatory consequences of sleep restriction

Reports and Proceedings

American Academy of Sleep Medicine

DARIEN, IL – A new study to be presented at the SLEEP 2024 annual meeting found that low-dose acetylsalicylic acid, also known as aspirin, can reduce inflammatory responses to sleep restriction.

Results show that compared with placebo, preemptive administration of low-dose aspirin during sleep restriction reduced pro-inflammatory responses. Specifically, aspirin reduced interleukin-6 expression and COX-1/COX-2 double positive cells in lipopolysaccharide-stimulated monocytes, as well as C-reactive protein serum levels.

“The novelty of this study is that it investigated whether we can pharmacologically reduce the inflammatory consequences of sleep restriction,” said lead author Larissa Engert, who has a doctorate in behavioral physiology and is a postdoctoral fellow in the department of neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the division of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston. “We used a non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug because it has been shown to affect specific inflammatory pathways, which were previously shown to be dysregulated by experimental sleep restriction or sleep disturbances.”

The researchers collected data from 46 healthy adults in a randomized placebo-controlled crossover trial with three protocols – sleep restriction/aspirin, sleep restriction/placebo, and control sleep/placebo – each consisting of a 14-day at-home phase followed by an 11-day in-hospital stay. In the sleep restriction/aspirin condition, participants took low-dose aspirin during the at-home phase and in-hospital stay. Each in-hospital stay started with two nights of an eight-hour sleep opportunity. Then, under the sleep restriction conditions, participants were exposed to five nights of a four-hour sleep opportunity, followed by three nights of recovery sleep. The control sleep condition provided an eight-hour sleep opportunity throughout the in-hospital stay. Sleep and immunologic measures were assessed at baseline and various points throughout the study.

The data also reveal that the aspirin-induced reduction of inflammatory pathway activity in sleep-restricted participants was paralleled by decreased wake after sleep onset and increased sleep efficiency during recovery sleep, Engert noted.

“These findings show that it is possible to blunt inflammatory pathways activated by sleep restriction through preemptive administration of low-dose aspirin. This may foster the development of new therapeutics that specifically target those pathways, and do not exhibit the undesirable side effects associated with aspirin, such as bleeding and stroke. Such therapeutics could complement behavioral sleep improvement therapies to better prevent or control inflammation and its consequences in those experiencing periods of sleep deficiency,” Engert said.

This study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, German Research Foundation, and Sleep Research Society Foundation. The research abstract was published recently in an online supplement of the journal Sleep and will be presented Monday, June 3, and Wednesday, June 5, during SLEEP 2024 in Houston. SLEEP is the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, a joint venture of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society.


Abstract TitleUsing Low-Dose Acetylsalicylic Acid to Target Inflammation in Response to Experimental Sleep Restriction in Humans

Abstract ID: 0174

Oral Presentation Date: Monday, June 3, from 1:45 - 2 p.m. CDT, Room 342DEF

Poster Presentation Date: Wednesday, June 5, from 11-11:45 a.m. CDT, Board 50

Presenter: Larissa Engert, Ph.D.

About the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, LLC

The APSS is a joint venture of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society. The APSS organizes the SLEEP annual meeting each June (

About the American Academy of Sleep Medicine

Established in 1975, the AASM advances sleep care and enhances sleep health to improve lives. The AASM has a combined membership of 12,000 accredited sleep centers and individuals, including physicians, scientists and other health care professionals who care for patients with sleep disorders. As the leader in the sleep field, the AASM sets standards and promotes excellence in sleep medicine health care, education and research (

About the Sleep Research Society 

The SRS is a professional membership society that advances sleep and circadian science. The SRS provides forums for the exchange of information, establishes and maintains standards of reporting and classifies data in the field of sleep research, and collaborates with other organizations to foster scientific investigation on sleep and its disorders. The SRS also publishes the peer-reviewed, scientific journals Sleep and Sleep Advances (

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