Skimping on sleep can make you sick

Skimping on sleep can make you sick

With cold season just around the corner, it’s more important than ever to get enough sleep, according to a new study.

During the study, 164 adults between the age of 18 and 55 years old wore devices to track their sleep for a week and then were exposed to a rhinovirus, the most common type of virus behind the common cold. Researchers found that people who slept less than six hours were nearly four times as likely to catch a cold than those who slept six or more hours.

“People are exposed to millions of pathogens in their daily environment, but not everyone gets sick from them,” says Dr. Asad Zaman, internal medicine physician at Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest, Ill. “This study really shines a light on how important sleep is for good health.”

The study didn’t make clear exactly why more sleep prevented illness from settling in, but researchers believe the regulatory effects of sleep may help boost the immune system.

“It’s such a simple solution for boosting immunity, yet hard for many of us to make happen,” says Dr. Zaman. “Sometimes the simplest solutions can make a big difference.”

Dr. Zaman offers these tips for getting a good night’s sleep:

  • Set a routine and stick to it. Watch the clock and put yourself to bed by a set time every night. Try to get up around the same time every day.
  • Avoid large meals, caffeine and vigorous exercise late in the evening.
  • Create a welcoming and relaxing bedroom environment. Keep the room cool, wear comfortable clothing, and avoid bringing work with you.
  • Turn off electronic devices an hour before bed, particularly those with back-lit screens, like tablets and smartphones.
  • Create a nighttime ritual. This can help your body fall into a natural rhythm and signal your brain that it’s time to start slowing down. Include relaxing activities such as reading, meditation or taking a bath.
  • Quit smoking. Nicotine is a natural stimulant and can prevent you from sleeping soundly.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.