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Lack of sleep increases risk of falling ill

Lack of sleep increases risk of falling ill

We all know we should be getting about eight hours sleep a night, but how many of us actually hit that target? Juggling work stress and busy social lives can take a toll on how much we sleep, and when you bring babies into the equation, all bets are off.

But it's time to start thinking more carefully about your slumber. As well as leaving you grumpy and bleary eyed, not having enough rest could increase your chance of falling ill. According to new research, getting six hours sleep a night will leave you four times more likely to catch a cold than if you rest for an hour longer.

164 adults were monitored as they stayed in a hotel over a week. Afterwards, each was given nose drops with a cold virus in, with researchers checking who fell foul of the illness.

People who had slept for under five hours were four-and-a-half times more likely to develop a cold.

Scientists did take other things into account too, such as whether the person smoked or drank alcohol, but it was sleep which affected the outcome the most.

"It goes beyond feeling groggy or irritable. Not getting enough sleep affects your physical health. Sleep goes beyond all the other factors that were measured. 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," Aric Prather, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco, explained in Journal Sleep.

"With all those things taken into account, statistically sleep still carried the day and was an overwhelmingly strong predictor for susceptibility to the cold virus."

He also warned against the trend for taking pride in being too busy to rest properly. Aric believes in modern life many people relish being busy and jamming as much into their day as they can, but doing so at the expense of sleep can be a bad move.

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