Cold temperatures and unpredictable weather mean that it’s time to protect yourself against common winter illnesses such as colds and the flu. Research has shown that a lack of sleep makes us more prone to developing these types of illnesses.
According to Diwakar Balachandran, MD, director of the Sleep Center at
the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston,“It is an old wives’ tale that if you don’t sleep well, you will get sick, and there is some experimental data that shows this is true.”
One study completed by Carnegie Mellon University demonstrated this
relationship between poor sleep and a weaker immune response to fighting a common cold. Approximately 150 study participants were first interviewed about their sleep habits over a two-week period. The participants were then exposed to a rhinovirus (cold-causing virus) and quarantined for 5 days. Following the 5 day period, the participants reported on cold symptoms and had blood samples taken to determine if they had developed antibodies to fight infection.
The results were clear: the more an individual slept, the less likely they were to develop cold symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, and a scratchy throat. Additional studies have shown that sleep deprivation not only impacts whether we actually catch a cold or flu, but also how well we can fight it.
So instead of letting a cold or flu catch you this season, why not be proactive? Keep yourself healthy by getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night!