Having trouble getting rid of that pesky cold? Have one that keeps coming back with greater consistency than a boomerang? A 2009 study suggests that it might not be your cold medicine that’s failing to do the job, but an inadequate amount of sleep instead.
According to the study as reported in the LA Times, people who slept fewer than seven hours a night were three times more likely to catch colds than those who slept for eight hours.
The Importance of Sleep for Your Health
It’s not just the common cold that getting enough sleep can help hold at bay. People who sleep fewer than seven hours a night are also more likely to suffer from a wide range of health conditions, according to studies, including each of the following:
- High Blood Pressure
- Hardening of Arteries
- Weight Gain
Other studies suggest that sleep deprivation has a disruptive impact on the immune system as well. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much sleep disruption to greatly increase your likelihood of becoming ill once exposed to a virus.
What does Sleep Have to do With It?
Sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your body in sickness and in health. In health, it helps prevent many common illnesses from getting a foothold.
You see, while you sleep, your body isn’t doing all the things it does during the day to keep you up and operational. This is the time when it repairs itself on a cellular level. Antibodies have an opportunity to go to work kicking germs to the curb – among other important functions.
If you’re not getting an adequate amount of sleep at night, your body doesn’t have time to see to all the repairs necessary to fix damage germs have done or get rid of the chief offenders. It leaves you vulnerable to exposure and makes you a target for illness.
What can You do About It?
If you’re like most people, you’d love to get a little more sleep at night. It may seem impossible with all the demands on your time and attention, but the positive results are worth a few inconveniences in order to get the sleep your body needs. These are a few things you can do to get more consistent and better quality sleep.
- Kick the electronics out of the bedroom – all of them (televisions, mobile phones, computers, tablet devices, video games, etc.).
- Keep a consistent sleep schedule – even on the weekends (you can never really make up for lost sleep anyway).
- Reprioritize the importance of sleep in your life.
These steps are great starts. If your problem has more to do with going to sleep in the first place, you should also consider developing a bedtime ritual, changing the décor of your bedroom to something more restful and meditative, or even changing your mattress for added comfort and support throughout the night. Changes like these are your first steps to a healthier new you.
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