We talk a lot about getting too much sleep here on this site and in particular you get to listen to a lot about the my experiences of having more than enough sleep in my life over the last several years. But this blog post is a bit different, it’s about getting enough sleep as a preventative measure against the effects of germs that you don’t want. It was an interesting study a few years ago reported in Yahoo! News about some researchers from various universities that work together to find out if they were effects of adequate sleep on the susceptibility to go.
They gathered together a group of 153 people for this study. They were healthy men and healthy women between 21 and 55. The researchers recorded the efficiency and duration of the subjects to see if they get enough sleep over a two-week period.
By the way, efficiency as it is used in the previous sentence is a means of describing the percentage of time a person sleeps while they are at rest and in bed. After the subjects had two weeks of consistent sleep, the researchers introduced the cold virus to the noses of the subjects and kept them sequestered for the next five days.
Enough Sleep Is Plenty
You’re ready for the results? It is quite interesting what happened and actually it is quite predictable. The people that slept less than seven hours a night on average were nearly 3 times as likely to have a cold as those that slept eight hours or more. This seems to contradict some of the evidence we reported recently in our last post that showed the mortality rate of a person that got too much sleep (slept over eight hours) was doubled compared to the person sleeping seven hours a night but given the size of the sample these researchers used in this study there could be some room for error. I am not a statistician but I do know that a scientific study about enough sleep this small has a chance of being not very statistically accurate.
I did some research on statistics since I have never taken a class to understand it and as I expected I was totally lost in the first paragraph. This much I know that a scientest has to be very careful or the results will be totally off. Enough sleep or too much sleep can totally get supported in the wrong way.
Putting that aside for the moment, the study does lend itself to the belief that being well rested causes your body to be better prepared to handle any germs that may come its way. It certainly lives up to grandma’s advice.
One other thing of interest that was reported on the study surrounded the effect of efficiency in sleep. Those that slept with less than 92% sleep efficiency were over five times as likely to get a cold than those with 98% sleep efficiency. Remember sleep efficiency is the percentage of time a person sleeps compared to the total amount of time in bed.
Enough Sleep Does More
Another statistic that was not obvious on the surface of the research was that only 35% of those that were infected with the virus actually got sick. So in other words, even though the individual had been infected with a virus a large portion, 65% did not get sick. There was a significant correlation between the sleep habits and whether or not a person actually displayed evidence of having been infected with a cold.
The study goes even deeper when you realize that the symptoms of a cold are not actually from the cold itself but the body’s reaction to the cold virus. The runny nose etc. are created by the overcompensation of the body trying to fight the virus so in essence what has happened to those people that were well rested is their bodies were better able to regulate the cold virus fighting agents and did not have the experience of what are commonly called cold symptoms.
Now what’s the take away from this? My take away from this study would be that just like your grandma told you, you need to get enough sleep and when you get enough and not too much sleep, your body is better able to deal with the germs that come your way as a part of everyday life.