We all know it. But now it’s confirmed. Researchers at a whole slew of universities, including Carnegie Mellon and UCSF, have teamed up and published in the journal Sleep, a study that used objective sleep measures to show that people who sleep six hours a night or less are more than four times more likely to catch a cold, compared to those who sleep more than seven hours in a night.
“It goes beyond feeling groggy or irritable. Not getting enough sleep affects your physical health.”
Lead author Aric Prather reiterates, “sleep goes beyond all the other factors that were measured, 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 and was an overwhelmingly strong predictor for susceptibility to the cold virus.”
164 adults underwent two months of health screenings, interviews and questionnaires to establish baselines for factors like stress, temperament, and alcohol and cigarette use. The researchers also tracked their sleep patterns for seven days using a watch-like sensor that measured the duration and quality of sleep throughout the night. Then, the participants were sequestered in a hotel, administered the cold virus via nasal drops and monitored for a week, collecting daily mucus samples to see if the virus had taken hold.
They found that subjects who slept less than six hours a night were 4.2 times more likely to catch the cold compared to those who got more than seven hours of sleep, and those who slept less than five hours were 4.5 times more likely.