(NaturalNews) A person's risk of becoming sick after exposure to a cold virus drastically increases the less sleep they get, according to a study conducted by researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
"Although sleep's relationship with the immune system is well-documented, this is the first evidence that even relatively minor sleep disturbances can influence the body's reaction to cold viruses," researcher Sheldon Cohen said. "It provides yet another reason why people should make time in their schedules to get a complete night of rest."
The researchers conducted their experiment on 75 women and 78 men, all of them healthy and between the ages of 18 and 55. All participants were interviewed on their sleep habits once a day for two weeks, reporting how many hours they slept per night as well as how quickly they fell asleep. The researchers then dripped cold viruses into the nostrils of each participant and sequestered them in a hotel room for five days to see who would get sick.
The researchers found that people who slept an average of less than seven hours per night were 2.94 times more likely to develop cold symptoms than people who slept eight or more hours a night. People who spent more time tossing and turning – defined as spending more than 8 percent of their time in bed awake – were 5.5 times more likely to develop symptoms.
Cohen noted that the current study is one of the first to look at the effect of sleep on the immune systems of healthy people.
"Experiments that explore the relationship between sleep and immune function often involve sleep deprivation or study subjects with sleep disorders, which are often rooted in psychiatric conditions that influence other aspects of health," he said. "This research points to the role played by ordinary, real-life sleep habits in healthy persons."