A recent study has shown that less sleep makes people more likely to catch colds.
The study, done by researchers at the University of California in San Francisco (UCSF), showed that people who sleep six hours a night are 4.2 times more likely to catch the common cold when compared to people who sleep seven hours. For people who get less than five hours of sleep, the chance of getting colds increases by 4.5 percent.
As reported by the Washington Post on August 31, 164 volunteers had their sleep habits measured by sensors for seven days. Then, the volunteers were given the cold virus in nasal drops for a week. Researchers then collected mucus samples to see whether the volunteers had caught the cold.
“Short sleep was more important than any other factor in predicting subjects’ likelihood of catching cold,” wrote Dr. Aric Prather, an assistant professor of Psychiatry at UCSF and the lead author of the study, in a press release. “It didn’t matter how old people were, their stress levels, their race, education or income. With all those things taken into account, statistically sleep still carried the day.”
According to the Washington Post, poor sleep has long been linked to chronic illness and even premature death. This study provides the first evidence connecting less sleep to the risk of the common cold.
The study especially pertains to students, as many tend to lack sleep because of school work.
“I was shocked after hearing this news,” Beverly Hills High School freshman Claire Kim told JSR. “I always thought I had allergies, but I had not realized that my lack of sleep could result in catching the cold. I realize that sleep is really important so I won’t miss school because I am sick.”
“I think this proves that schools need to emphasize the importance of sleep more and perhaps give less work,” Van Nuys High School junior Se Rin Lee said. “Students are not able to sleep much because of school work, and so they get sick and miss school. It is kind of a vicious cycle.”
While sympathetic, Buckley School AP Calculus teacher Joanne Ryan told JSR that time management is also an issue.
“Although I do not tend to give students a lot of homework, they have so many classes that homework does tend to pile up for them,” she said. “Teachers should give the appropriate amount of work and students should also manage their time better.”