Whether or not one gets enough sleep could have a massive impact on their health, and new research suggests “short sleepers” are more than four times more likely to catch a common cold.

The study is the first to use objective sleep measures to link individuals' natural sleep habits to their risk of getting sick when exposed to a virus, the University of California, San Francisco reported. The findings revealed people who get less six or fewer hours of sleep per night have a significantly elevated risk of coming down with a cold when compared to people who slept for seven or more hours.

 “Short sleep was more important than any other factor in predicting subjects' likelihood of catching a cold,” said Aric Prather PhD, assistant professor of Psychiatry at UCSF and lead author of the study. “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.”

To make their findings, the researchers exposed a group of 164 participants to a safe and controlled dose of the common cold virus, and looked at how different factors influenced the body's ability to fight off the disease. In the study, the participants wore sensors to get accurate sleep measurements, as they were isolated in a hotel for a week and provided daily mucus samples for vital testing.

The findings showed that participants who slept for less than six hours on average per night were 4.2 times more likely to catch a cold compared to those who got more than seven hours of sleep; those who got less than five hours of sleep were 4.5 more likely to get sick.

“It goes beyond feeling groggy or irritable,” Prather said. “Not getting sleep fundamentally affects your physical health.




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