Colds And Quality Of Sleep Linked, Study Shows

A man reaches to snooze his alarm clock.

hide captionExperts say we need to take sleep seriously, pointing to many links between poor sleep and poor health.

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Health Benefits Of Sleep

Science keeps telling us the same thing our bodies say on those mornings after too little rest — proper sleep brings many health benefits. Here are some additional stories on sleep:

Rest Keeps Heart Healthy

The human heart needs a certain amount of sleep every night to stay healthy, research shows. The link between sleep and heart health is stronger than researchers suspected.

Sleep For Slimness

A study shows that new mothers who get less than five hours of sleep retain their "baby weight" much more than women who sleep seven hours.

Getting A Good Night's Sleep

Believe it or not, some of us need to be taught how to sleep. Sleep expert Dr. Helene Emsellem answers your questions about getting a better night's rest.

Helping Teens Set Patterns

Late-night online chats with friends can make for rough mornings and can eventually take a toll on a teen's health. Dr. Helene Emsellem offers advice for night-owl teens.

Americans Getting Less Sleep

Polls show that Americans are getting shorter and shorter amounts of shut-eye each night. Listen to a sleep expert on the health and safety consequences of not getting enough sleep.

New research finds that people who get less than seven hours of sleep per night may be more susceptible to the common cold.

The preliminary findings come from a study at Carnegie Mellon University, where researchers recruited about 150 healthy men and women to participate.

The volunteers agreed to keep track of how many hours they slept each night for two weeks. They also estimated how much time they spent tossing and turning.

Then researchers purposely infected the volunteers with a common cold virus called rhinovirus and watched to see who got sick.

They found that the people who had slept less than seven hours a night in the weeks before being exposed to the virus were about three times more likely to develop a full-fledged cold than those who had slept more.

What surprised researchers the most was a fairly strong association between interrupted sleep and the onset of cold symptons. It turned out that people who tossed and turned a lot or spent a lot of time in bed trying to fall asleep were also much more likely to get sick.

"We were surprised by the magnitude of the effect," says researcher Dr. Sheldon Cohen of Carnegie Mellon. Cohen's previous research has shown a strong association between stress and susceptibility to the common cold.

One weakness of the study is that it relied on volunteers to estimate their own sleep. Experts say more objective measures are needed to validate the findings.

"Clearly, it would be better to have a formal sleep study to verify that people are accurately reporting the amount of sleep they get," says Dr. Ron Turner of the University of Virginia, who collaborated with the Carnegie Mellon researchers.

Formal sleep studies are expensive. But scientists say they do plan follow-up research. One option is to use movement-sensing technology that tracks people's movements in bed.

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