Too Little Sleep May Quadruple Your Risk for Colds
One study has found that people who sleep fewer than six hours per night are four times as likely to catch a cold than those who rack up more than seven hours. So far, science has established an associative relationship, not a causative one, meaning it’s not clear whether healthy people are healthy because they sleep more, or getting more sleep increases health. One thing is for certain, though: When it comes to triumphing over cold season, a little extra rest can’t hurt.
Sleep and Insulin Sensitivity
Nothing keeps you up at night like finding out your insomnia might be causing you to pack on the kilos. Another study found that just one night without sleep impairs insulin sensitivity as much as eating a high-fat diet for six whole months. (Insulin sensitivity is exactly what it sounds like: how sensitive you are to the effects of insulin—the less sensitive you are, the more trouble you have digesting carbs, absorbing nutrients and maintaining a healthy weight.) According to researcher Josiane Broussard, Ph.D. of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, both sleep deprivation and a high-fat diet can lead to Type 2 diabetes and cause high blood sugar.
To reach this conclusion, Broussard measured insulin sensitivity in eight male dogs before and after they were fed a high-fat diet for six months. The researchers found that canines who were sleep-deprived for one night had a decrease of 33 percent in insulin sensitivity. After being fed a high-fat diet, the dogs had a 21 percent decrease. Although this experiment was conducted on animals and not humans, it underscores the importance of getting a good night’s sleep.
Sleep and Exercise
While we’re all for getting any exercise over no exercise, when it comes to restful sleep, research is finding that certain activities are better than others. Some particularly good sleep-inducers? Walking, biking, running, weight lifting, aerobics, gardening, yoga/Pilates and golfing.
“Not only does this study show that those who get exercise simply by walking are more likely to have better sleep habits, but these effects are even stronger for more purposeful activities, such as running and yoga, and even gardening and golf,” said study leader Michael Grandner, a psychiatry instructor at the Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in a university release.
Oversleeping May Be Worse Than Under-sleeping
By now, the research is pretty well stacked in favour of the ‘sleep = good health’ correlation. But what may come as a surprise is that getting too much sleep could be more detrimental to your health than getting too little.
A new study of 47,000 young and middle-aged adults found that sleep impacts the calcium buildup in major arteries, which leads to heart disease. Those who got fewer than five hours of sleep had 50 percent more calcium buildup compared to those who got seven hours of sleep. Meanwhile, those who got nine or more hours of sleep had an even more concerning amount: 70 percent more calcium compared to seven-hour sleepers.
There are a handful of things you can do to help if you’re struggling with sleep. Avoiding caffeine after lunch and dimming the lights in your room as bedtime approaches are a good starts. “It is also important to avoid exposure to electronic media at bedtime,” said study lead author Dr. Chan-Won Kim.
Talking to a medical professional may also help. For those who get a quality snooze each night, what are some of your tricks?

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