Fight the Flu? Get Some Sleep!

Here’s a warning shot across the bow for those workaholics and students who are chronically sleep deprived. I’ve mentioned in my slide show about the common cold, as well as my accompanying article, that there are a lot of preventive things you can do to fight off colds and flu viruses. And it may seem like common sense, but now it’s proven that getting less than 6 or 7 hours a sleep can dramatically increase your risk of infection. It’s a fascinating study which is addressed in an article  from the New York Times. Here’s a good quote:

In a recent study for The Archives of Internal Medicine, scientists followed 153 men and women for two weeks, keeping track of their quality and duration of sleep. Then, during a five-day period, they quarantined the subjects and exposed them to cold viruses. Those who slept an average of fewer than seven hours a night, it turned out, were three times as likely to get sick as those who averaged at least eight hours.

Sleep and immunity, it seems, are tightly linked. Studies have found that mammals that require the most sleep alsoproduce 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.

So get your sleep!

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