Sleep often takes a backseat to parenting or a career that requires long hours, but new research suggests that sacrificing slumber for productivity is a bad trade-off.
Surveys of 22,000 Americans show that people who slept five hours or less on average weeknight were 28 percent more likely to have had a cold in the past month than those who averaged at least seven hours. Worse still, Reuters.com reports, the sleep-challenged subjects were 82 percent more likely to report battling the flu, pneumonia, or an ear infection.
The study doesn’t prove that sleep loss increases susceptibility to infections, but researchers note that sleep deprivation does hinder infection-fighting white blood cells. Moreover, people who are chronically tired may also be less likely to exercise or follow a healthy diet. Says study author Aric Prather, “It is our hope that this work will help raise the profile of sleep as a critical health behavior.”
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