According to a new study in the research journal Sleep, getting at least seven hours of shut-eye every night makes a person less likely to get a cold. Those who sleep less than five hours are four and a half times more likely than others to catch a cold, NYC Today reports.
Led by University of California at San Francisco and psychologist Aric Prather, the research found that the immune system that fights cold-causing viruses is weakened by a lack of sleep.
LACK OF SLEEP IS THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR FOR COLDS
“It did not matter how old people were, their stress levels, their race or education,” said Prather. “With all those things taken into account, statistically sleep still carried the day and was an overwhelmingly strong predictor for susceptibility to the cold virus”.
HOW THE STUDY WAS DONE
To measure the effects of sleep patterns on cold defense systems, Prather and his team assessed the sleep patterns of the 164 men and women that participated in the study. According to NPR, the team used a Fitbit-like device and sleep diaries to measure a week’s amount of sleep for each participant. Researchers also exposed the participants to an active cold virus.
While 18 percent of those who slept more than six hours each night received the virus in the study, 39 percent of those who slept less than six hours got it.
WHY SLEEP IS IMPORTANT TO HEALTH
Healthy sleep habits are crucial to overall health. As Deutsche Welle pointed out, lack of sleep can result in impaired cognitive function, increase blood pressure, psychological stress and the risk of metabolism and obesity.
AMERICANS SHOULD SLEEP MORE
According to News-Medical.net, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called the lack of sleep in the United States an “epidemic” linked to car crashes and other fatal accidents.
“In our busy culture, there’s still a fair amount of pride about not having to sleep and getting a lot of work done,” Dr. Prather said. “We need more studies like this to begin to drive home that sleep is a critical piece to our wellbeing.”