Everyone knows how important it is to get in your zzzz’s. So it should come as no surprise that not getting enough sleep can make you sick.
Researchers discovered that people who slept less than six hours per night were four times more likely to catch a cold than those who slept for more than seven hours. The findings were published in the September issue of the journal Sleep on Monday, CBS reports.
A research team with the University of California, San Francisco, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Carnegie Mellon University worked together to use what they call objective sleep measures to link lack of sleep to the risk of getting sick.
They exposed 164 volunteers to the common cold to test their ability to fight off the infection, Irish Examiner reports. Researchers measured participants’ quality of sleep using a sensor, according to CBS. From there, researchers monitored the participants in a hotel by taking mucus samples and treating the cold with nasal drops.
The study showed that the volunteers who had slept less than six hours per night were 4.2 times more likely to catch the cold than those who slept more than seven hours. And those who slept less than five hours per night were 4.5 times more likely to catch the cold.
Lead researcher Aric Prather, from the University of California at San Francisco, said that not getting enough sleep goes beyond “feeling groggy.” “Not getting enough sleep fundamentally effects your physical health,” Prather said.
Of course, the study authors took other factors such as age, smoking habits, race and more into consideration. However, Prather said in a statement that “short sleep” or lack of sleep trumped any other factor when it comes to catching a cold, Washington Post reports. “It didn’t matter how old people were, their stress levels, their race, education or income. It didn’t matter if they were a smoker. With all those things taken into account, statistically sleep still carried the day,” Prather said.
The researchers said that this is just one more study that reveals how important sleep is to your general health. Prather said that sleep is often deprived of the attention it needs. “This shouldn’t be the case,” he said.
Prather added that further research will be conducted to grasp the connection between sleep and the immune system, particularly specific aspects of the immune system uniquely linked to sleep.