Dr. Steven Horvitz- Reading between the Lines:
Bringing you healthcare information you can trust!
February 17, 2009
I often get asked, "Hey Doc, Why do I always get sick. It seems like I am in here for a cold all the time."
A new study from the Archives of Internal Medicine on Sleep habits and the susceptibility to the common cold may give us a little clue.
Colds and Sleep
Sleep habits and susceptibility to the common cold.
Arch Intern Med. 2009; 169(1):62-7 (ISSN: 1538-3679)
Cohen S; Doyle WJ; Alper CM; Janicki-Deverts D; Turner RBDepartment of Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
BACKGROUND: Sleep quality is thought to be an important predictor of immunity and, in turn, susceptibility to the common cold. This article examines whether sleep duration and efficiency in the weeks preceding viral exposure are associated with cold susceptibility.
METHODS: A total of 153 healthy men and women (age range, 21-55 years) volunteered to participate in the study. For 14 consecutive days, they reported their sleep duration and sleep efficiency (percentage of time in bed actually asleep) for the previous night and whether they felt rested. Average scores for each sleep variable were calculated over the 14-day baseline. Subsequently, participants were quarantined, administered nasal drops containing a rhinovirus, and monitored for the development of a clinical cold (infection in the presence of objective signs of illness) on the day before and for 5 days after exposure.
RESULTS: There was a graded association with average sleep duration: participants with less than 7 hours of sleep were 2.94 times (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.18-7.30) more likely to develop a cold than those with 8 hours or more of sleep. The association with sleep efficiency was also graded: participants with less than 92% efficiency were 5.50 times (95% CI, 2.08-14.48) more likely to develop a cold than those with 98% or more efficiency. These relationships could not be explained by differences in prechallenge virus-specific antibody titers, demographics, season of the year, body mass, socioeconomic status, psychological variables, or health practices. The percentage of days feeling rested was not associated with colds.
CONCLUSION: Poorer sleep efficiency and shorter sleep duration in the weeks preceding exposure to a rhinovirus were associated with lower resistance to illness
Sorry, sometimes reading medical studies makes me sleepy ; )
To rephrase this study in a language we can all understand, individuals who achieved less than 7 hours of refreshing sleep a night had an almost 3x greater likelihood of "catching a cold".
So in today's rush-rush hectic world, where we do not have time to do all the things we feel are needed, it seems like a good time to adjust our schedules back to include time for a good 8 hours or more of sleep. And sleep should be something we look forward to at the end of the day, not something to dread because " I don't have time for sleep. I am too busy!"
The better we sleep, the better we function during our waking hours, which means better production at work, or at least better than the guy pictured below.
Here are some suggestions to try if you are having issues with sleep:
1) Avoid all products with caffeine after 4 PM.
2) Follow a routine at bedtime-- with consistent adherance to the routine: Example: warm bath and warm decaffeinated drink
3) TV off the same time every night.
4) Save bed for sleep and intimacy. DO NOT read or watch TV in bed.
5) If you are unable to sleep after 30 minutes in bed then get up and do something constructive in another room such as housework, a hobby, or watch TV. The idea is that this will avoid frustration with not being able to get to sleep and tell your brain/body: that if your are going to be awake then you will do "waking hours activities". Should you become sleepy then return to bed.
6) Learn yoga, Tai Chi, or other meditative breathing exercises to help you "turn off your brain" at night. The Mount Laurel Library is offering a one hour class the First Friday of every month, from 7-8 pm, in the ancient healing art of Tai Chi. For more info on this class or Tai Chi please click here.
For further sleep tips, please follow this link to the National Sleep Foundation, http://www.sleepfoundation.org/site/c.huIXKjM0IxF/b.4813227/k.2F67/Sleep_Tips.htm
If you have any sleep tips that you would like to share, please visit my blog at http://drhorvitz.blogspot.com/ and leave your annonymous tips in the comments section. The blog also contains all the previous newsletters with an easier search feature.
Good night and I hope you sleep well !!!
Steven Horvitz, D.O.
Board Certified Family Medicine
Founder of The Institute for Medical Wellness