People who sleep less than six hours a night are up to five times more likely to catch the common cold virus when they encounter it, new research shows.
that scientists recruited 164 healthy men and women with an average age of 30 for their study, and sprayed the live virus into their noses, then quarantined them.
"We infected them with the cold virus," explained Aric Prather, a psychologist at the University of California, San Francisco. The study's conclusions were published this week in the scientific journal Sleep.
"What we found was that individuals who were sleeping the least were substantially more likely to develop a cold," he continued. "Sometimes when we're exposed to viruses, we end up not getting sick."
Of the study participants, nearly 40 percent of those who averaged less than six hours of sleep each night got sick. In stark contrast, only 18 percent of those who got more than six hours ended up ill.
The study authors said that sleep is just one of many factors that can affect whether or not someone who's encountered the virus actually succumbs to the sickness it can produce. Age, smoking status, stress level, and more can affect the outcome.
According to The Telegraph U.K.
, poor sleep has also been linked to chronic illnesses, obesity, and even premature death.
The results of Prather's previous research studies have shown that people who sleep less hours each night are less protected against illness after receiving a vaccine.
"In our busy culture, there's still a fair amount of pride about not having to sleep and getting a lot of work done," Prather said.
"We need more studies like this to begin to drive home that sleep is a critical piece to our wellbeing."
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