Friday, September 25, 2009

Sleep As Protection Against Colds & Illness

In case you missed it (buried) in my last blog post, sleep is one of the most valuable preventive strategies for protecting yourself against catching a cold.

A recent study on sleep habits and susceptibility to the common cold published in the Archives of Internal Medicine concluded that, "Poorer sleep efficiency and shorter sleep duration in the weeks preceding exposure to a rhinovirus were associated with lower resistance to illness."

The actual data might be startling to those of us who cram things into our lives and consider good sleep a luxury for weekends and vacations:
  1. Less than 7 hours of sleep makes us almost 3 times more likely to come down with a cold compared with people getting 8 hours of sleep
  2. If we are only 6% less efficient in our sleep patterns, we are 5.5 times as likely to come down with a cold compared with people who are 98% efficient.
That last little fact reminds me of the cliche comment about getting sick after the exam or the big stressor and "now my body can afford to be sick." Wrong. The stress and associated sleep disruption makes the body many times less resistant to bugs that are ever-present.

I think the article in the New York Times on September 21st said it well:

"Sleep and immunity, it seems, are tightly linked. Studies have found that mammals that require the most sleep also produce greater levels of disease-fighting white blood cells — but not red blood cells, even though both are produced in bone marrow and stem from the same precursor. And researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology have shown that species that sleep more have greater resistance against pathogens."

So, if we are serious about avoiding illness this season, sleep is a most vital ally for immune system health.

Here's to setting and achieving the goal of getting a little more sleep. Our favorite "kat" would heartily approve. :-)


Ingrid said...

I certainly agree, but those of us that can not sleep well, need help! Any way you can get some tryptophan for the coop? I take melatonin, valarian and magnesium but need more. Hear that tryptophan works well.


Cindy Marteney, CEO, Our Health Co-op said...

We have your request on our ever-growing new product request list. Thanks Ingrid.