It’s that time of year again – family, friends and coworkers are sick with a cold. While you may think that catching a cold is inevitable, especially when people all around you are sick, research suggests that quality sleep may help to protect you.
The common cold is a well-known illness characterized by sneezing, scratchy throat, and runny nose. A study completed by Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh found that people who sleep less than seven hours per night and those with disruptive sleep patterns are much more likely to develop cold symptoms when exposed to the virus. The study involved monitoring the sleep patterns of participants for 14 days, and then administering nasal drops containing a rhinovirus. The researchers then monitored any cold symptoms that developed five days after exposure to the virus.
Those who regularly slept less than seven hours per night were three times more likely to develop symptoms than those who slept over eight hours. In addition, those who spent more than 8 percent of the time wake (due to night awakenings or difficulty falling asleep) were over five times more likely to develop cold symptoms compared with those who slept through the duration of the night. A full summary of the research is available: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19139325
According to Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Yale University School of Medicine Prevention Research Center: “Getting good sleep should count among the priorities of health-conscious people. Time invested in sleep will almost certainly be paid back in dividends of better health — fewer colds and greater productivity.”
So if you’re looking to boost your immune system and stave off a common cold this year, be sure you get least seven hours of quality sleep every night.