Sleep may be best cure for the common cold

Posted on Feb 6, 2009 in Health & Wellness

By Nicholas Bakalar Published: January 14, 2009
There is no cure for the common cold, but in an experiment that deliberately infected volunteers with a virus, researchers have shown that getting less sleep can substantially increase the risk of catching one.

For 14 days, the researchers monitored and recorded the sleep time of 153 healthy men and women ages 21 to 55. They also scored their sleep efficiency, the percentage of time in bed spent asleep. Then they dripped a solution containing a rhinovirus into their noses and monitored their health for five days. Almost all subjects became infected, and more than a third had cold symptoms.

The study, led by Sheldon Cohen of Carnegie Mellon University, was published Monday in The Archives of Internal Medicine.

Researchers found that those who got less than seven hours of sleep a night were almost three times as likely to have clinical symptoms as those who got eight or more. Those with a sleep efficiency score of 85 percent or less were more than five times as likely to be infected as those with higher efficiency.

Dr. Christine Nevin-Woods, the executive director of the Pueblo City-County Health Department, which conducted the research, acknowledged that the study did not control for smoking. Still, she called the decrease in the rates significant.