A Free And Easy Way To Prevent a Cold

Study shows the connection between sleep loss and a higher rate of illness.
Marsha Lewis, Contributing Producer

(Inside Science TV) -- As winter closes in, we stock up on vitamins, pills and nose drops. But there is one simple, free and easy solution that could help prevent catching a cold.

Get more sleep! 

Sleep plays an important role in the fight against the cold virus.

A new study reveals that getting enough sleep is imperative for our immune system.

"We spend one-third of our life sleeping. It plays a critical role in both our mental health and our physical health," said Aric A. Prather, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco.

"There are different types and different amounts of immune cells that are floating along in our blood compared to people who are sleeping normally," said Prather.

That's because, while you snooze, your body regulates the flow and function of important immune cells -- known as T cells and B cells -- that work to protect you from viruses.

"If people are kind of chronically not getting enough sleep, their immune system is likely worn down and when they're challenged, it turns out, they're more susceptible to the cold," he said.

So what's the magic number? How much sleep do you really need to be a cold-fighting machine?

Research showed in a recent study that if you're exposed to the cold virus and sleep more than seven hours, your chance of developing a cold is 17 percent. If you sleep just six hours, that increases to 22 percent. If you're working on just five hours of sleep, you have a 30 percent chance of ending up stuffed up. Any less than five hours and you might as well stock up on cold medicine right now.

"You get immediate affects when you improve your sleep. You feel better the next day. You have more ability to cope with things that happen in your day. You might think faster. And it can help your health as well. It's a win-win when you focus on improving your sleep," said Prather.

So remember this winter, catch more zzz's to prevent a sneeze!

Author Bio & Story Archive

Marsha Lewis is a freelance producer based in California.  She has won 11 National Telly Awards and nine Regional Emmy Awards for her work in local and national syndicated news.

I’ve dedicated my time to reporting and producing stories focused on medical, science and technology. I created a nationally award winning series dedicated to promoting women and their great accomplishments.  Now I’ve taken that expertise outside the traditional TV news format and broadened the viewership to people around the world.