Plenty of myths exist about the common cold: You can catch a cold from being in the cold; getting caught in the rain will give you a cold. Some tried-and-true measures are around to avoid catching a bug, the best being frequent hand-washing. Now, more evidence exists about how sleep plays a role in getting sick.
A study in a medical journal called Sleep found that participants who slept for less than six hours per night were four times more likely to catch a cold than those who got a good night’s rest.
The study focused on 165 men and women, who researchers exposed to the rhinovirus, or the virus that causes the common cold (yes, sounds like a rather dreadful study to take part in). Those who reported sleeping less than six hours per night the week before were 4.2 times more likely to get sick. Those who got less than five hours were at a 4.5 times higher risk.
“Short sleep was more important than any other factor in predicting subjects' likelihood of catching cold," said lead author Aric Prather of the University of California San Francisco. "It didn't matter how old people were, their stress levels, their race, education or income. It didn't matter if they were a smoker. With all those things taken into account, statistically sleep still carried the day.”
All the more reason to keep hitting the snooze button.