Lack of sleep can lead to bad outcomes, from crankiness to extreme mental distress.
Now researchers report an association between insufficient sleep and getting sick. Specifically, they conclude that shorter sleep duration was associated with increased susceptibility to the common cold. Adults who slept fewer than 5 hours or between 5 and 6 hours were at greater risk of developing a cold compared to those sleeping more than 7 hours per night, according to the study, published in the journal Sleep.
The authors conclude:
Given that infectious illness (i.e., influenza and pneumonia) remains one of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States, the current data suggest that a greater focus on sleep duration, as well as sleep health more broadly, is indicated.
NPR reports further on the study:
Aric Prather, a psychologist at the University of California, San Francisco, who studies how our behaviors can influence our health…wanted to document the extent to which a good night’s sleep is protective. So, he and a group of colleagues recruited 164 healthy men and women — their average age was 30 years old — to take part in a study. Using sleep diaries and a device similar to a Fitbit, the researchers assessed each participant’s sleep for a week.
Then the scientists sprayed a live common cold virus into each person’s nose.
“We infected them with the cold virus,” Prather says, then quarantined everybody and watched to see who got sick…
“What we found was that individuals who were sleeping the least were substantially more likely to develop a cold,” Prather says. Continue reading