It's simple: the more sleep you get a night, the less likely you are to catch a cold.
It’s official: the less you sleep, the more likely you are to catch a cold.
Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, conducted an experiment on 164 healthy adults, ages 18 through 55, and determined that people sleeping six hours a night or less are four times more likely to catch a cold compared to those who get more sleep.
Physicians have long determined that sleep is beneficial to good health. When a person gets ill, one of the initial prescriptions is to “get some rest. But this research indicates that extended sleep can be a preventative ingredient to avoiding illness.
In conducting the experiment, the volunteers were each given a device to wear on their wrist that could monitor the amount of sleep they get a night. After seven days of monitoring and maintain a sleep diary, the subjects were brought into a lab and injected with live rhinovirus, the component that leads to the common cold.
The subjects were then quarantined in a hotel for five days and subjected to a virus culture from the nose daily to see if the virus had taken hold.
Compared to all other measurables such as age, body mass, stress level and other factors, the sleep habit proved to be the most effective predictor of who would catch the cold. Those who slept six hours a night were four times more likely to catch the cold than those sleeping seven hours a night, and those getting less than five hours of sleep a night were 4.5 times more likely to catch the virus.
The study did not determine why longer sleep can prevent colds, but the authors did have some suggestions about the cause and effect.
“We know that sleep plays an important role in regulating the immune system,’’ said author Aric Prather, assistant professor of psychiatry at UC-San Francisco. He said that earlier research shows that insufficient sleep causes our immune cells to work harder in other areas and thus are not on hand to fight off viruses.
Interestingly, it was determined that the sleep total does not need to be continuous. A person who sleeps off and on, but still gets the seven hours, is no more susceptible to illness than those sleeping seven hours straight.
The relationship between sleep and propensity to catch cold brings to mind recent studies indicating that school children, who face numerous viruses daily, are not getting enough sleep. According to a survey by the National Sleep Foundation, 60 percent of American high schoolers report extreme daytime sleepiness, while another study found that 25 percent fall asleep in class at least once a week, and 25 percent believe their grades are negatively affected by lack of sleep.
All of this while 90 percent of American parents state their belief that their children get adequate sleep.
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.