Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Sleep deprivation and susceptibility to colds

What a sorry parade I've had through my office the last month. Not only were these poor souls coughing their brains out (and sharing their respiratory droplets with me!), they had: company coming, an upcoming trip to London, an important work presentation, a parent in the hospital, an enormous party to host, and finals to study for (and take). There's never a good time to be sick, but somehow we often seem to be sick when we can least afford to take to our beds. So here's interesting medical news from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

Psychologists there polled 153 healthy subjects over 14 consecutive days about how long they slept and how rested they felt. And then--get this--they quarantined off this group who quite clearly were paid for this study, inoculated their noses with infected droplets from other people's noses (!) and checked out who fell ill and who did not.

Participants reporting less than 7 hours of sleep were nearly 3 times as likely to get sick than their 8+ hours-of-sleep colleagues. And those with less than 92% sleep efficiency meaning that they actually slept less than 92% of the time that they were in bed were over 5 times more likely to succumb to the germs in the donated mucous.

So ah-hah! That explains it--you stay up late cleaning house for company, finishing your work before your trip, fretting over your ailing parent, studying for exams, you walk through the supermarket and the bag boy sneezes on you, and poof! done deal! you're sick. So get some sleep and I will too in case you can't sleep, get sick, come to my office, and cough on me.


Ruth said...

That is why I get my yearly cold at Christmas, Dec 26th being the most common day I get ill. Another reason to celebrate the season in a log cabin in the woods somewhere. (my dream)

Cilicious said...

This is why we always used to get sick at Thanksgiving. We were always traveling, always overtired and stressed. Now that we no longer have a command performance for Turkey Day, we have been much healthier.
Sleep deprivation is a recipe for disaster in so many ways.

JeanMac said...

That makes sense to me - rest required - sometimes difficult to do.