While getting a good night’s sleep may not cure the common cold or flu, it may help you be less susceptible to getting sick. Though the exact mechanisms are currently not well understood, according to research, a lack of sleep can alter the immune system function.1,2,3 In fact, lack of sleep may affect the protection of your body against invading pathogens, including viruses that cause the common cold or flu. Getting small amounts of night sleep, or interrupted sleep from tossing and turning or waking up often, may affect the way your immune system defends against or recovers from a cold or flu viral attack.4
Sounder Sleep Strengthens Cold Prevention
A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2009 found that those who get less than seven hours of sleep per night are nearly three times more likely to catch a cold than those with eight or more hours of sleep.5
The study also found that quality of sleep may be even more important than quantity. Those with below-normal sleep efficiency—based on the time spent actually sleeping (rather than tossing and turning) in relation to the time laying down in bed—were five and a half times more likely to catch a cold than those with better sleep.5
This cold and flu season, try your best to keep a consistent, good sleep routine. Sleep may be just what your immune system needs to keep you healthy and feeling great.
Irwin, M.R., Wang, M., Campomayor, C.O., et al. Sleep deprivation and activation of morning levels of cellular and genomic markers of inflammation. Archives of Internal Medicine. 2006;166(16):1756-1762.
Opp, M.R. Cytokines and sleep. Sleep Medicine Reviews (2005) 9, 355-364.
Vgontzas, A.N., Zoumakis, E., Bixler, E.O., et al. Adverse effects of modest sleep restriction on sleepiness, performance, and inflammatory cytokines. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 2004;89(5):2119-2126.
Cohen, S., Doyle, W., Alper, C.M., et al. Sleep Habits and susceptibility to the common cold. Archives of Internal Medicine. 169(1): 62-67. 2009.