How lack of sleep increases your risk of getting sick

Caitlin Chang

New research has found getting less than six hours sleep makes you four times as likely to catch a cold. Photo: Getty

If you want to stay healthy, sleep is one of the best things you can do, a new study has found.

Research published in the journal Sleep has found if you get only six hours of sleep per night, you’re four times as likely to get a cold than those who clock seven hours.

For the study, researchers examined 164 healthy adults who volunteered to catch a cold virus. Researchers first gave participants a wrist gadget to track their sleep each night for a week.

Two weeks later, they were brought into the lab and a live rhinovirus was injected into their nose. Then, researchers quarantined volunteers in a hotel for five days to see who got sick.

Gallery: Sleep tight, every night

How long a person slept was one of the biggest determinants in whether a person got sick. After factoring in other elements such as age, body mass, stress levels and emotional state, those who slept six hours or less per night were four times more likely to get a cold than those who slept seven hours. Sleeping less than five hours per night increased risk 4.5 times.

“This is really the first convincing evidence that objectively verified sleep is associated with susceptibility to the common cold,’ said lead study author Aric Prather from the University of California.

Bottom line: while sleep may not be the cure for the common cold, it may prevent you from catching one in the first place.


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