Sleep deprivation may increase common cold risk

Common cold risk - People who sleep less than six hours are more likely to catch a cold when exposed to the micro-organism.

The investigators gathered 164 healthy adults over the course of two months for screenings, questionnaires and interviews. The participants underwent two months of health screening, during which experts recorded their sleep habits using a watch-like sensor that measured the quality and duration of sleep over the course of the night.

After that, the study subjects were exposed to rhinovirus, common cold virus, via nasal drops so that the researchers could analyze how various factors affected the body’s capacity to fight the infection off. The participants were monitored for a week and had mucus samples taken each day so the progress of the virus could be assessed.

The scientistsar discovered that people who had slept less than 6 hours a night were 4.2 times more likely to get sick after exposure to the virus than those who managed to get 7 hours or more sleep a night. Participant who slept less than 5 hours were 4.5 times more likely to start sneezing.

“In our busy culture, there’s still a fair amount of pride about not having to sleep and getting a lot of work done, said Dr. Aric Prather, lead researcher and professor of Psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco. “We need more studies like this to begin to drive home that sleep is critical piece to our wellbeing,” he added.

Apart from catching more colds, sleep deprivation has also been associated with mental alertness and driving ability, as well as increased risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes and obesity. Sleeping more isn’t quite a cure for the common cold , but it could go a long way in protecting you from getting sick. IMAGE/belfasttelegraph

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