Photo: RelaxingMusic (Flickr)
Lately you’ve been burning the candle at both ends, staying up into the wee hours for work or play, then getting up early for more of the same. After skimping on sleep for a week or two, you wake up one morning with a sore throat and a stuffy nose. What’s the connection between getting too little sleep and getting a cold?
Get Some Sleep!
Sleep researchers have found that our immune system doesn’t function as well when we get too little sleep. Why? Lack of sleep wreaks havoc with important hormones in the body, including prolactin, which regulates the immune system.
Normally, as you sleep, the level of prolactin in your bloodstream increases. But without enough sleep, your prolactin level decreases instead. A restless night’s sleep can also decrease the number of killer cells circulating in your bloodstream.
The job of the dramatically-named killer cells is to search out and destroy viruses and cancerous cells in the body. Over time, too little sleep can weaken your immune system’s response, making it harder for your body to ward off infection.
The quality of your sleep makes a difference too. If you’re still tired after a good eight hours in bed, make sure that your evening routine isn’t robbing you of precious Z’s. The usual suspects that can disrupt your sleep cycle include drinking alcohol, eating, exercising or smoking right before bedtime.
Along with staying out of spraying range of coughs and sneezes, catching enough quality Z’s is one of the best ways to prevent catching colds.