Only Six Hours of Sleep? Better Grab a Tissue

I absolutely hate this.  My husband is right.  Not enough sleep can lead to colds.

We've fought for years over this, mostly because our son seems to get sick every time he misses a couple of hours of sleep.  I've always felt that it was mostly myth, or just Larry's crazy view of just about everything (he also believes lack of exercise makes you sick and that tomatoes will stop prostate cancer in its tracks -- and meanwhile, never goes to the doctor).

But anyway, now that Phillip's in high school, missing a day here and there is a serious thing.  No longer can he have the three-day stretches where he recovers from strep throat, or a cold.  (I admit, I'm a little scared, too.)

But a new study has found that "short" sleepers are four times more likely to get a cold.

Makes sense, I guess. People who sleep less than six hours a night are the ones most likely to have this happen to them.

This is the first study to use objective sleep measures to connect people’s natural sleep habits and their risk of getting sick, according to Aric Prather, PhD, assistant professor of Psychiatry at UCSF and lead author of the study. The findings add to the growing evidence of the importance of sleep for our health, he said.

“Short sleep was more important than any other factor in predicting subjects’ likelihood of catching cold,” Prather says. “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.”

Scientists have long known that sleep is important for our health, with poor sleep linked to chronic illnesses, disease susceptibility and even premature death. Prather’s previous studies have shown that people who sleep fewer hours are less protected against illness after receiving a vaccine. Other studies have confirmed that sleep is among the factors that regulate T-cell levels.  T-cells help us fight infection.

Oh, this burns me!  I hate when he's right.  But I still hold the record for knowing how to do all the important things in our house  -- change the filter on the vacuum, DVR a program and where the butter is in the refrigerator.


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