WHEN you're run down from lack of sleep, you really are more apt to catch a cold, a new study finds.
Investigators exposed 164 adults to a cold virus, and found better-rested folks more likely to resist infection.
Those who slept fewer than six hours a night were more than four times as likely to catch a cold as those who got more than seven hours' shuteye.
However, the study doesn't prove that insufficient sleep actually causes you to catch a cold. But it builds on prior investigations that have linked bad sleep habits to a weakened immune system and a potentially higher risk for developing an array of chronic illnesses.
Researchers found that when an otherwise healthy person is (temporarily) deprived of an entire night of sleep, they see fairly robust changes in things like which types of immune cells are circulating in the blood and what types of chemical messengers are released from cells that aid in immune system communication.
In the week leading up to study participants’ exposure to the cold virus, researchers monitored their usual sleep patterns. Afterward, all were quarantined in a hotel for five days and given nasal drops containing a cold virus.
The result: Cold risk was 4.2 times greater for those who slept fewer than six hours a night, and 4.5 times greater for anyone grabbing five hours or less of slumber a night, when compared with those getting more than seven hours a night.
The findings held up even after accounting for factors such as time of year, weight and obesity status, income, education background, self-declared stress levels, smoking status, exercise routines and drinking habits, the researchers said.
They added that their findings are based on strong science, given that they tracked existing bedtime patterns, rather than artificially withheld sleep.