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Quality Undisturbed Sleep Helps Fight Colds

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, January 13, 2009 10:36 AM EST
Category: On The Road, Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Colds, Immunity, Living Well, Sleep, FDA and Prescription Drugs, Insomnia, Weight Gain

Sleep subjects with disturbed sleep fared the worst in this sleep study in terms of immunity to the common cold.  



IMAGE SOURCE:  Wikimedia Commons/ sleeping moon/ author: Dvortygirl


It may sound like common sense- fewer hours of sleep translates to a reduction in your body’s immunity to everything, even the common cold.

And that’s exactly what researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found.  Those who slept fewer than seven hours a night were three times more likely to catch a cold.

To test the theory, the researchers paid $800 to 153 healthy adults. In exchange, they agreed to have a rhinovirus, that causes colds, sprayed up their nose. They then spent five days in a hotel to see if the virus made them sick.

People who generally spend eight hours or more sleeping nightly were significantly less likely to become sick with a cold.

While the boost to the immune system from sleep theory was confirmed here – what this study shows for the first time is that people who have disturbed sleep - that is awakened throughout the night - have five times the risk of catching a cold.

Dr. Sheldon Cohen, the lead author said in a statement, "Although sleep's relationship with the immune system is well-documented, this is the first evidence that even relatively minor sleep disturbances can influence the body's reaction to cold viruses.”

"It provides yet another reason why people should make time in their schedules to get a complete night of rest."

The longer you sleep, the better off you are, the less susceptible you are to colds.”

Sleep disturbance signals chemicals called cytokines or histamines, that affect the immune system, researchers believe.

To determine one’s sleep habits, the participants were interviewed for two weeks before the study about the quality and length of their sleep.  Researchers found that subjects who reported “feeling rested” were not necessarily the healthiest, likely because that is a subjective assessment. 

After infection, a total of 54 people became sick, even though the virus had infected 135 of the volunteers.

The study on sleep is published this week in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Previous studies have linked a lack of sleep to weight gain, heart disease and high blood pressure.

There are a reported 70 million Americans with sleep disorders, and a government report issued last may also confirmed that people who sleep fewer than six hours or more than nine hours a night are more likely to have health problems,. The report finds that restorative value of sleep has been underappreciated in public health recommendations

Harvard researcher, Sat Bir Khalsa, believes that consumers do not need to take prescription medicine to sleep better and longer.  His research on treating insomnia with yoga, shows that people need to establish a regular bedtime and move electronics out of the bedroom. # 

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