A new study published in the journal Sleep suggests that not getting enough sleep could increase one’s risk of developing a cold.
To investigate their theory, researchers gathered a total of 164 participants and gave them the common cold virus via nasal drops, so they could analyze how several factors affected the body’s ability to fight off the virus. Researchers monitored the participants for a week and took mucus samples each day to assess the virus’s progress.
Before being given the virus, each participant went through a two-month health screening. Their normal sleep habits were also recorded during the week leading up to the virus implementation.
Participants who slept less than six hours a night during the preceding week were 4.2 times more likely to develop a cold compared to participants who had seven or more hours of sleep a night. Participants who slept less than five hours a night were 4.5 times more likely to catch a cold.
According to study authors, one of the major strengths of the study is that it analyzed each participant’s normal sleep cycle, rather than artificially depriving the volunteers of sleep.
Researchers note that despite providing sufficient evidence on the importance of sleep, more research and work are needed before attitudes toward sleep are changed. The study’s lead author, Aric Prather concludes, “We need more studies like this to begin to drive home that sleep is a critical piece to our wellbeing.”
Sources for Today’s Article:
University of California San Francisco, “Short Sleepers Are Four Times More Likely to Catch a Cold: Researchers connect sleep loss to higher rates of illness,” Newswise web site, August 27, 2015; http://www.newswise.com/articles/short-sleepers-are-four-times-more-likely-to-catch-a-cold.
Prather, A.A., et al., “Behaviorally Assessed Sleep and Susceptibility to the Common Cold,” Sleep January 17, 2015, pii: sp-00619-14.
McIntosh, J. “Lack of sleep could increase common cold risk,” Medical News Today web site, September 1, 2015; http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/298785.php.