You May Catch a Cold

If you don't catch 40 winks, you may catch a cold, according to a new Carnegie Mellon University study.

People who sleep fewer than seven hours a night are nearly three times more likely to get a cold than those who average eight or more hours of sleep, the study found. For people who wake up periodically or have trouble falling asleep, the news is even worse.

Study subjects who missed out on shuteye for as little as 8 percent of the time they were laying in bed were five-and-a-half times more likely to get the sniffles than those who slept throughout the night.

"Although sleep's relationship with the immune system is well-documented, this is the first evidence that even relatively minor sleep disturbances can influence the body's reaction to cold viruses," said Sheldon Cohen, the Robert E. Doherty Professor of Psychology at Carnegie Mellon and lead author of the study. "It provides yet another reason why people should make time in their schedules to get a complete night of rest."

In the study, published in the Jan. 12 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, 153 healthy volunteers were introduced to a cold virus. They were then sequestered in a hotel for five days and monitored for symptoms, such as sneezing, nasal congestion and sore throats. Of the study subjects, 54 developed a cold.

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