Sleep Habits and Susceptibility to the Common Cold
Two articles on PainSci cite Cohen 2009: 1. The Insomnia Guide for Chronic Pain Patients 2. Insomnia Until it Hurts
PainSci commentary on Cohen 2009: ?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided wherever possible.
This research adds to the pile of reasons to get adequate sleep. It is particularly noteworthy because of how little sleep loss and sleep disturbance it took to dramatically increase rates of infection in experimental subjects. Getting less than seven hours per night is all it took to put these brave volunteers in the hot zone, nearly tripling (2.94) their rate of head colds. A lot of people don’t get more than seven hours per night.
And that’s not the worst of it. Sleeping badly had an even nastier effect. Subjects who were awake in bed for any more than 8 percent of their time in bed asleep were 5.5 times more likely to become ill. That’s just 40 minutes of tossing and turning out of 8 hours in bed — something many people probably do almost every night.
For more analysis, see Sleepless Nights Equal More Colds In U.S. Study.
~ Paul Ingraham
original abstract †Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.
BACKGROUND: Sleep quality is thought to be an important predictor of immunity and, in turn, susceptibility to the common cold. This article examines whether sleep duration and efficiency in the weeks preceding viral exposure are associated with cold susceptibility.
METHODS: A total of 153 healthy men and women (age range, 21-55 years) volunteered to participate in the study. For 14 consecutive days, they reported their sleep duration and sleep efficiency (percentage of time in bed actually asleep) for the previous night and whether they felt rested. Average scores for each sleep variable were calculated over the 14-day baseline. Subsequently, participants were quarantined, administered nasal drops containing a rhinovirus, and monitored for the development of a clinical cold (infection in the presence of objective signs of illness) on the day before and for 5 days after exposure.
RESULTS: There was a graded association with average sleep duration: participants with less than 7 hours of sleep were 2.94 times (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.18-7.30) more likely to develop a cold than those with 8 hours or more of sleep. The association with sleep efficiency was also graded: participants with less than 92% efficiency were 5.50 times (95% CI, 2.08-14.48) more likely to develop a cold than those with 98% or more efficiency. These relationships could not be explained by differences in prechallenge virus-specific antibody titers, demographics, season of the year, body mass, socioeconomic status, psychological variables, or health practices. The percentage of days feeling rested was not associated with colds.
CONCLUSION: Poorer sleep efficiency and shorter sleep duration in the weeks preceding exposure to a rhinovirus were associated with lower resistance to illness.
- “Sleepless Nights Equal More Colds In U.S. Study,” Maggie Fox, Reuters.com.
- The Insomnia Guide for Chronic Pain Patients — Serious insomnia-fighting advice from a veteran of the sleep wars
This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights:
- Inciting events associated with lumbar disc herniation. Suri 2010 Spine J.
- Prediction of an extruded fragment in lumbar disc patients from clinical presentations. Pople 1994 Spine (Phila Pa 1976).
- Characteristics of patients with low back and leg pain seeking treatment in primary care: baseline results from the ATLAS cohort study. Konstantinou 2015 BMC Musculoskelet Disord.
- Effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of universal school-based mindfulness training compared with normal school provision in reducing risk of mental health problems and promoting well-being in adolescence: the MYRIAD cluster randomised controlled trial. Kuyken 2022 Evid Based Ment Health.
- No long-term effects after a three-week open-label placebo treatment for chronic low back pain: a three-year follow-up of a randomized controlled trial. Kleine-Borgmann 2022 Pain.