During sleep, the body’s defense system is strengthened. But, did you know that lack of sleep has a stronger impact on our immune system than other factors like age, alcohol consumption, smoking, stress, and nutrition? A fact proven by a study from the University of California. Scientist Aric Prather and his team found out, that lack of sleep significantly influences our immune system.
Lack of sleep increases susceptibility to colds
One week before the testing started, the sleep duration of the 164 test persons was examined by means of a sensor worn on the wrist. Additionally, the participants where asked about their nutrition, consumption of alcohol and nicotine, stress level etc. Following this week, in the laboratory the participants were subjected to cold viruses in the form of nasal drops.
Via the nasal mucosa the viruses enter the body, multiply there and lead to the known cold symptoms. Is your immune defense strong enough the process is interrupted and the viruses are fend off. In fact, the progression of the disease strongly varied amongst the participants.
- less than five hours sleep on average became sick with nearly 50 per cent
- more than seven hours sleep were able to fight the viruses and remained healthy for more than 80 per cent
- five to six hours sleep got sick to 30 per cent
- six to seven hours sleep got sick to about 23 per cent.
This result clearly shows that sufficient sleep offers the best protection against a cold.
Furthermore, it became that the sleep duration had more influence on the progression of the disease than factors like age, stress as well as alcohol- and nicotine-consumption.
Health pillar sleep
The scientists emphasize that sleep is just as important for our health as nutrition and exercise. Besides sleep duration, sleeping quality is especially decisive. Disturbances to fall asleep and to sleep through are often the consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle and bad sleep hygiene.
Important steps toward healthy and restful sleep are
- an optimal sleep surrounding
- a suitable sleeping underlay
- a regular sleep-wake-rhythm
- a balanced nutrition as well as
- regular exercise in fresh air.
Study Behaviorally Assessed Sleep and Susceptibility to the Common Cold, (http://docs.dpaq.de/9524-prather_et_al.pdf)