You’re a busy person and it may be a challenge to get enough sleep. There are always seems to be one more thing you need to do before turning out the lights at night. If you’re not giving yourself enough time to sleep, it may be time to reassess your busy schedule. According to a recent study, not getting enough sleep may make your more susceptible to catching the common cold.
This study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, studied the sleep habits of 153 male and female test subjects. The men and women were asked to report the number of hours they slept along with how rested they felt for fourteen days. Sleep scores were calculated based on this information. The participants were then inoculated with nasal drops containing the cold virus and monitored for signs of the common cold.
The results? It was found that participants who slept less than seven hours per night were almost three times more likely to develop symptoms of the common cold than those who slept eight hours or more. Those who reported feeling less rested after sleeping were also more prone to develop symptoms of the common cold. The researchers concluded that sleeping longer and getting more effective sleep may help to prevent the common cold in those who are exposed to the virus.
How might sleeping longer prevent the common cold? Shorter sleep intervals have been shown to increase levels of cortisol, a hormone released in response to stress. High levels of cortisol can suppress the immune cells which normally protect the body against viruses such as the rhinovirus which causes the common cold. When you get a good night’s sleep, you make it easier for your immune cells to function at a high enough level to prevent the common cold.
This is just one of several studies showing the importance of sleep for preventing disease. A recent study showed that women who sleep less than six hours a night may be elevating their risk of breast cancer. Other studies have shown that sleeping longer at night can reduce the risk of developing heart disease. Therefore, a good night’s sleep may be important for preventing more than just the common cold.
The bottom line? If you want to prevent the common cold, you’ll have a better chance if you get a good night’s sleep. If you’re not giving sleep a priority, it may be time to re-evaluate your schedule and determine how you can make the time to sleep longer at night. The reward? You’ll feel better and may avoid a bad case of the sniffles.