When we were little and our parents told us it was time for bed, none of us wanted to comply. We were convinced that while we were sleeping, we’d miss something; that’s when all the fun would break out. It wasn’t until our teenage years when we realized that our parents’ idea of fun was clipping grocery coupons or listening to their own stomachs gurgle. By then their mission had changed from trying to get us to go to sleep, to trying to get us to wake up by noon.
As it turns out, Mom was right about the importance of a good night’s sleep. A recent scientific study, the results of which were published last month, shows that lack of sleep is a major factor in catching colds. The study found that people who get less than seven hours a night are about three times as likely to get sick as those who sleep at least eight hours. Earlier research has already linked the less-than-seven-hours benchmark with increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, weight gain and hardening of the arteries.
This new study, conducted by a team at Carnegie Mellon University, also found that hours of thrashing around in bed are no substitute for actual sleep when it comes to bolstering the body’s immune system. Calculations were made based on “sleep efficiency”, defined as the percentage of time a person actually slept while in bed. Study participants who had less than 92% efficiency were 5.5 times more likely to catch a cold than those lucky participants who were zonked out for 98% of their beddy-bye time. (Please forgive the technical terminology, but this is science, after all.)
So. Give your immune system a fighting chance, won’t you? Allow for at least eight hours of sack time, and if you find yourself awake in the middle of the night, don’t think about the damage you’re doing to yourself. I said, don’t think about it… seriously now, you’ll just keep yourself awake with thoughts like that… that’s the last thing you need… go to sleep, dammit! Now!…