You are 4 times more likely to catch a cold with inadequate sleep
With the cold and flu season coming soon, we thought it was important for everyone to know about a new study concerning short sleep and susceptibility to illness. UC San Francisco sleep researcher Dr. Aric Prather and a team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, found that people who sleep less than 6 hours a night are 4 times more likely to catch a cold when exposed to virus, compared to those who receive seven hours of sleep nightly.
A total of 164 healthy men and women aged between 18 and 55 volunteered for the study. The participants wore wrist actigraph devices, a deceive that records movement using various algorithms that can estimate ones sleep parameters. They were also asked to keep sleep journals for the duration of the study. The participants received 7 hours of sleep each night for 7 days to measure the baseline for the study. After the baseline for each participant was established, they were then quarantined and administered nasal drops containing the rhinovirus, and monitored over 5 days for the development of a clinical cold. Researchers found that subjects who had slept less than six hours a night the week before were 4.2 times more likely to catch the cold compared to those who got more than seven hours of sleep, and those who slept less than five hours were 4.5 times more likely.
“Short sleep was more important than any other factor in predicting subjects’ likelihood of catching cold,” Prather said. “It didn’t matter how old people were, their stress levels, their race, education or income. It didn’t matter if they were a smoker. With all those things taken into account, statistically, sleep still carried the day.”
Sleep should be considered as important an aspect of basic health as diet and exercise, researchers in the study said, but because of cultural norms and the realities of life people skip out on the amount of sleep their bodies actually need.
The study is published in SLEEP.
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