Could Lack of Sleep Make You More Likely to Catch a Cold?


Everyone knows the importance of a good night’s rest. Despite recommendations that healthy adults get at least seven to nine hours of quality sleep per night, the average American gets six hours or less. This lack of rest can lead to many different health issues, and new a study says that it may also increase your chances of getting ill come cold and flu season.

The study, published recently in the journal Sleep, found that those who get six hours of sleep per night or less, are four times more likely to get sick after exposure to the cold virus. In the study, researchers monitored the sleep patterns of 164 adult participants, all of whom were in good health. After recording sleep habits, researchers then exposed all of the participants to a rhino virus known to cause the common cold. The volunteers were then sent to a hotel for five days; on each day, researchers took culture samples from each participant.

Researchers found that the amount of sleep participants received, was huge predictor of whether or not they became ill after exposure to the virus. Those who tended to get less sleep had lower immune system function and inflammatory response, which is vital in order for the body to successfully fight off sickness. While the study’s findings are not exactly surprising, they are another example of how important sleep is for the human body. In addition to having lower immune function, people who lack proper rest tend to have higher amounts of stress and anxiety.

The Sleep study is another example of how human behavior affects overall wellness. Past studies have shown that a poor diet, lack of exercise, and excessive alcohol intake can also lead to decreased immune system function. When immunity is lowered, the risk of catching an illness is increased immensely. This why it is vital to stay active and fit in order to ward off any nasty bugs.

If you tend to lack quality sleep, there are a few things to try in order to drift off into dreamland faster. One of the most important (and difficult) way to fall asleep faster is to turn off the screens at least an hour or two before bedtime. Looking at cell phones, televisions and tablet screens can mess with your body’s internal clock – meaning continual tossing and turning. Make sure to stretch lightly before bed as this will relax the muscles and ready them for rest. Having a light meditation or reflection of the day can also help focus your mind and lower the heart beat.

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of David D