Home » Featured, Your Body

Sleep Habits and Susceptibility to the Common Cold

16 July 2009 2 Comments

sleepI pity the fool that volunteered for this study. 153 healthy, that’s right, HEALTHY, men and women VOLUNTEERED, if you can believe it, to be given the virus that develops into the common cold. Imagine doing that to yourself. Anyway, I am loving their work, for we all get to benefit from the results. Prior to being given the virus, their sleep habits were measured for 14 nights, both in terms of their sleep duration and their “sleep efficiency” (the percentage of time in bed that they were actually asleep).

“Sleep efficiency”. Don’t you love that term. No-one wants to be thought of as “efficient” in bed, but wouldn’t it be great to be an efficient sleeper! Are there exercises one can do to be better? Does crashing like a log and being awoken rather rudely from a shiraz stupor some 7-8 hours later count as “efficient”. If so, well, hurrah. Speaking of being awoken, check this out: http://bit.ly/30w0w9

No surprises here – “participants with less than 7 hours of sleep were 2.94 times more likely to develop a cold than those with 8 hours or more of sleep”, and “participants with less than 92% efficiency were 5.50 times more likely to develop a cold than those with 98% or more efficiency”.

The differences could not be accounted for by how healthy the subjects were, their antibody levels (a measure of immune function),  socioeconomic status or psychology or even if people “felt rested”.

So there’s a clear message, get 7-8 hours a night and you’ve got a better chance of resisting a cold. And, if possible, work on that sleep efficiency – if you can get your score up from 92% to 98% you improve your chance by 5.5 times. Oh, and if you figure out how to do this, let me know.


Sleep Habits and Susceptibility to the Common Cold

Sheldon Cohen, PhD; William J. Doyle, PhD; Cuneyt M. Alper, MD; Denise Janicki-Deverts, PhD; Ronald B. Turner, MD

Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(1):62-67.

Photo credit