No Time For Sleep? You’ll Pay With The Common Cold, Premature Death, Science Says

Want a cure for the common cold? It’s simple: Sleep.

A recent study has found a direct correlation between getting ill and visiting the sandman. Essentially, people who sleep less per night are more likely to get sick than those who get a full night’s rest, Medical Daily reported.

Dr. Carol Ash put it this way to CBS News.

“Once you get less than you physiologically need, you start to fall apart.”

So, how exactly does sleeping affect whether or not we come down with a common cold? Scientists aren’t completely sure, but they believe it has something to do with how in its absence, inflammation increases, which “injures tissues and decrease(s) defense.” It also makes the cells that help defend the body against viruses a bit sluggish, as well.

Researchers discovered this link by studying how people catch a few winks in a natural setting, as opposed to self-reporting their habits (which can be unreliable) to monitoring them in a lab (which is the opposite of natural).

Over two months, 164 adults answered questions about their health and common vices like alcohol and cigarette use, stress, and temperament. They also underwent health screenings. Then, researchers outfitted them with monitors similar to fitness bracelets, which tracked their sleep patterns for a week.

Now here’s for the gross part: Each participant had the common cold virus inserted into their nose via a nasal drop. For a week afterward, their mucus was sampled to see if they’d contracted the virus. Meanwhile, their sleep was continually monitored as they chilled out in a hotel room for the week.

What they found proved that sleeping is just as important as diet and exercise in keeping us healthy, said study author Aric Prather.

“(It) 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 (common) cold virus.”

The stats: People who caught less than six hours per night were 4.2 times more like to get sick. Those who got even less sleep, at five hours, were 4.5 times more likely.

Studies have already shown that sleeping is critical to keep human beings functioning properly. Not getting enough can have consequences much more grave than catching a cold — it can make us more susceptible to car crashes, medical mistakes, chronic illness, and even premature death, CBS News noted.

And though the CDC has declared that the U.S. is amid a sleep deprivation crisis akin to a public health epidemic, people are known to brag about how much they can get done on only a few winks. Catching little Zzzzz’s seems to be a badge of honor in modern society.

And we’re paying with the common cold, car crashes, and death.

[Photo Courtesy ruigsantos / Getty Images]