Your mother always told you that getting enough sleep every night is key to staying healthy. You may not have taken it seriously, but as it turns out, she was right!
In a letter recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine, scientists confirm that a good night's sleep may keep colds and other infections at bay. They found that those who slept five or fewer hours a night on average were 28% more likely to catch a cold, compared to those who slept for seven to eight hours a night on average.
Short sleepers were also 80% more likely to catch other infections, including the flu, ear infections and pneumonia, compared to those who got regular shuteye. Read on for more.
Study finds a connection between short sleep and a higher risk of infections
The study was led by Aric Prather, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of California in the United States. In a past study, Prather exposed people to a cold
virus and found that there was a link between sleep
duration and the risk of getting a cold
, so he wanted to see if real-world data would support these findings in a new study.
Prather and his team used data from the large US National Health and Nutriton Examination surveys (NHANES) from 2005 to 2012. They looked at records of nearly 23,000 men and women with an average age of 46. The participants reported sleep duration, if they had sleep disorders or problems, and whether or not they’d had a cold or other infection such as the flu, ear infection or pneumonia in the previous month.
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The team found that participants who slept five or fewer hours a night on average had a 28% higher risk of catching a cold and an 80% higher risk of contracting another type of infection in the previous month, compared to those who slept seven to eight hours on average.
They also found that those with sleep disorders or who’d told their doctors that they have sleep troubles had a 30% higher risk of a cold and a 50% higher risk of another type of infection in the previous month.
The findings suggest that sleep may alter immune function in some way
While the study wasn’t designed to prove a cause-and-effect relationship, its findings suggest that sleep may alter immune function in some way and that it maintains a strong immune system
If you have trouble sleeping, Prather assures that you can become a better sleeper. His top tips include getting up at the same time every day, making sure your bedroom is cool, quiet and dark, and having a wind-down period before going to bed.
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