Illness Susceptibility and Sleep Quality

I’ve been ill for a few weeks and I was fairly sure (in my ama­teur opin­ion) that it was related to a sig­ni­fic­ant lack of sleep over the last couple of months. Upon return­ing to full health I decided to do some quick research on my favour­ite top­ic: sleep.

In one recent study look­ing at sleep habits and res­ult­ing sus­cept­ib­il­ity to the com­mon cold it was found that both sleep length and sleep qual­ity were “import­ant pre­dict­ors of immunity and, in turn, sus­cept­ib­il­ity”.

Spe­cific­ally, “those who slept an aver­age of few­er than sev­en hours a night […] were three times as likely to get sick as those who aver­aged at least eight hours”. Fur­ther­more, people who had 92% sleep effi­ciency were five and a half times more sus­cept­ible com­pared to those with 98% sleep effi­ciency (defined as the per­cent­age of time in bed actu­ally asleep).

The New York Times art­icle that led me to this study con­tin­ues:

Sleep and immunity, it seems, are tightly linked. Stud­ies have found that mam­mals that require the most sleep also pro­duce great­er levels of dis­ease-fight­ing white blood cells — but not red blood cells, even though both are pro­duced in bone mar­row and stem from the same pre­curs­or. And research­ers at the Max Planck Insti­tute for Evol­u­tion­ary Anthro­po­logy have shown that spe­cies that sleep more have great­er res­ist­ance against patho­gens.

The more you know… (the more you sleep?)

Update: I’ve briefly men­tioned this study on Lone Gun­man before, but I think the cog­nit­ive impact was the most inter­est­ing tit­bit in that Jonah Lehr­er art­icle.

2 thoughts on “Illness Susceptibility and Sleep Quality

  1. Rob O.

    What’s really scary for me as a still kinda new-ish Dad is the sleep habits I see oth­er par­ents instilling in their chil­dren. My son, now 5 has a fairly regi­men­ted sched­ule, which includes a bath to wind down and bed­time at 8:30 P.M. That time slips a few minutes on the rare occa­sion that we’ve had com­pany that even­ing or were oth­er­wise busy, but nev­er by more than 20–30 minutes. And he’s up at 6:30 A.M. to get ready to leave for school. He’s past the point of tak­ing after­noon naps, so he’s usu­ally exhausted by bed­time.

    But oth­er work­ing par­ents we know don’t put their kid­dos to bed until 10:30–11:30, which means those chil­dren are get­ting a scant 7 hours or so of sleep each night – and less on week­ends.

    Still oth­er folks we know don’t enforce any kind of stand­ard bed­time sched­ule, so their kids – small chil­dren – are some­times still up at Mid­night!

    Not only do rap­idly-grow­ing little minds & bod­ies need more sleep than adults, but more import­antly, you’re estab­lish­ing sleep habits that will likely carry with them through­out their lives. Being lax on bed­time sched­ules isn’t being a cool par­ent, it’s short­chan­ging your kids in innu­mer­able ways.

  2. Anonymous

    Its very import­ant that you get reg­u­lar sleep. If you dont sleep between 6–8 hours everynight there is a sure chance that you will become even sick­er.

    There are sup­ple­ments that you can take that will make you a bet­ter slep like melaton­in. The doc­tors have pre­crit­p­tion drugs as well but they have nasty side effects.

    LG Edit: Thanks for the (biased) inform­a­tion. I appre­ci­ate the com­ment and view­point, but this is not your sales page. I’ve removed your URL and anonym­ized your com­ment.

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