Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Get More Sleep to Avoid a Cold

It is always great when medical research supports the common sense that grandma knew decades ago. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine show that poor sleep increases our susceptibility to the common cold.

The researchers studied men and women ages 21-55 and monitored their sleep duration and efficiency (amount of time in bed actually sleeping) for 14 days. They then quarantined them and gave them nasal drops of rhinovirus (one of the common cold viruses) and monitored if they got a cold.

What did they find in this elegant experiment?

The subjects who slept 7 hours or less were almost 3X as likely to develop a cold than those with 8 hours or more of sleep. They looked at pre-test virus specific antibody titers, demographics, season of the year, body mass, socioeconomic status, health practices and psychological variables. None of those factor played a role in who caught the virus.

It is also interesting that 83% of the subjects were infected (blood tests showed increased viral titers) but only 35.3% showed infection plus cold symptoms. Patients with lower sleep efficiency had more severe cold symptoms.

These results suggest that better, longer sleep helps the body's immune system fight off symptoms of a cold since more patients got infected than got symptoms.

It also points to the fact that we are all probably exposed to viruses all the time, but some people seem to "catch" them more readily. Wash your hands and get more sleep to boost immunity.


Kellie said...

It would have been interesting if in the study they also looked at and took into account how people with sleep apnea compared in the study since there sleep pattern
and REM sleep is so interrupted they don't get enough refreshed sleep and also have there oxygen affected.

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