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:
- 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
- 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.
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. :-)