Not many people seem to remember how important sleep is for general health. Whereas, in the last decade there has appeared a lot of evidence in a form of scientific studies, which show that permanent sleep deprivation causes many negative consequences. I have already read at AfterWorkout.com information about adverse influence of lack of sleep on the level of testosterone, hunger control or ability of coping with stress and making rational decisions. But it occurs, that those factors mentioned above are not all of the results of too little amount of sleep!
Sleep and health
It has been known for a while now in the science world how important sleep is for general health and good physical or mental condition. Until presence, research has proven that sleep deprivation contributes to many negative health consequences, such as:
lower level of androgens among men,
depression, circulatory system diseases,
even premature death!
There have been also few new studies, in which it was observed that sleep deprivation changes the activity of the immune system by fostering development of contagious diseases.
Few days ago, in the SLEEP magazine, the results of an interesting study were published. Its authors devoted years 2007-2011 to observation concerning the influence of daily amount of sleep on the risk of development diseases of the upper respiratory tract. The researchers gathered a group of 164 volunteers who underwent special screening for eight weeks and completed questionnaires allowing setting the following parameters:
intensity of stress,
use of alcohol,
use of tobacco.
The most interesting was the fact that the authors gave the volunteers a virus at one point, which caused cold (they used direct method – infected nose drops). At first, the researchers described in detail the sleeping habits, as well as the quality and duration of sleep of the volunteers with a special tool. After giving the virus, the volunteers were monitored every day by giving samples of nasal mucus.
What did the researchers find out?
The volunteers who spent less than six hours on sleep per day one week before being infected got a cold over four times more frequently than the volunteers who slept at least seven hours a day. The participants who slept less than five hours a day had even higher percentage of getting ill (but the differences weren't significant). The observation proved how important sleep is for sustaining proper reactivity of the immune system. It was surprising, that only one-hour difference in the matter of the length of sleep caused over fourfold disparity. Further shortening of sleeping time caused rather symbolic discrepancy, but it still appeared. What's important, the researchers did not influence the volunteers' sleeping habits, they only based on their ordinary lifestyle.
It's possible, that much better effects than vitamin C or zinc supplementation in the prophylaxis of the upper respiratory tract infections can be achieved by properly long, good- quality sleep.