The miserable winter weather is in full swing which means everyone around you is coughing, spluttering and moaning about their cold. We all try our best to keep the cold at bay, but its often impossible to ward off. According to new research there might well be something you can do to help and it is as simple as getting more sleep.
The Less You Sleep, The More Common A Cold
The study conducted by Dr Aric Prather, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California was published in the Sleep Journal and found that the less you sleep, the more susceptible you are to contracting illnesses such as a common cold. The study, which was also run with colleges from Carnegie Mellon University studied the effect of sleep on 164 perfectly healthy volunteers over a four-year period.
The volunteers were surveyed on standard health effecting habits such as smoking and alcohol consumption as well as their sleeping patterns which were monitored over the space of a week using wearable sensors. They were all then put in a hotel together and exposed to a common virus that causes a cold, it would be at this point the could assess whether sleep effects your ability to dodge a cold.
A Clear Correlation
Around 30 per cent (just under 50 of the 164) picked up a cold shortly after being exposed to the virus let loose in the hotel. When linking this information with the sleep patterns, the study conclusively found that the less a person slept, the more likely they were to pick up the cold.
Comparing those who got as much as 7 hours a night with those who had much less produced striking results. Those who slept less than six hours were found to be four times more likely to develop a cold. Obviously there is no masking these results and they study proves to be fairly conclusive.
Professor Prather isn’t the only academic to study the link between health and sleep with Diwakar Balachandran. MD from the Sleep Centre at the University of Texas finding similar conclusions. While there is a lot of complicated biology involved, Balachandran put it simply by saying “the more all-nighters you pull, the more likely you are to decrease your body’s ability to respond to colds or bacterial infections”.
Interestingly he also says how sleep helps our bodies fight infection once it strikes. Mr Balachandran uses the example of fevers, which are one of our body’s ways of fighting illness. “One of the things that happens when we sleep is that we can get a better fever response. This is why fevers tend to rise at night, but if we are not sleeping our fever reaction is not primed, so we may not be waging war on infection as best we can. “
The daily recommended amount of sleep for adults is 8 hours, which isn’t always realistic especially if you have demanding jobs or young children but clearly getting north of 7 hours can make a huge difference on how your body combats viruses.