Danny question: Does a lack of sleep correlate

Danny Eckman

Lack
of Sleep Related to Colds

            For years, the importance of sleep has
been highlighted as a key to overcoming the common cold. Furthermore,
scientists have contended that a lack of sleep results in a weakened immune
system, which is more susceptible to a virus.
In spite of this being a well-known and widely-discussed topic, the correlation
between the lack of shut-eye and susceptibility to a cold has never had hard
evidence to support it. Recently, however, scientists teamed up to tackle the
question: Does a lack of sleep correlate with a higher risk for colds? In this
study, the independent variable, hours of sleep per night, was recorded and
monitored for its effect on the dependent variable, the degree of susceptibility
to the common cold.

            This correlational, two-part study
looked at 164 healthy individuals who volunteered to have their nightly sleep
data collected for one week. The scientists carefully monitored the volunteers’
sleep by utilizing wrist actigraphy, a watchlike device that monitors movement
during sleep, and by keeping sleep diaries, which detailed sleep duration and
continuity (Prather). In order to track each patient’s time slept, the
researchers determined that a certain amount of movement tracked by the wrist
actigraphy data would constitute for wakefulness; the time in this stage was
later subtracted from the time asleep in order to accurately determine one’s
average hours of sleep per night (Armitage). In the second portion of the
study, “scientists quarantined the participants in a hotel and gave them nose
drops contaminated with the rhinovirus —the virus responsible for the common
cold” (Armitage). Following that step, the “researchers drew the volunteers’
blood and tested for their levels of rhino virus antibody, which would bias
infection rates of the group” (Armitage). After five days of seclusion, those
deemed to be “sick” had to show one “objective sign of illness,” as well as
another immune response (Prather). Finally, by weighing snot assessing one’s
congestion, the participant was declared either ill or healthy. Overall, “of
the 164 participants, 124 received the actual virus, and 48 of them got sick” (Armitage).
In addition, the researchers reported that those who slept for “5 to 6 hours
were 4.2 times more likely to get sick, while those who slept 6 to 7 hours ran
the same risk of catching the cold as those who slept for 7 hours or more” (Prather).
Reviewing these results, the causal claim that a lack of sleep increases one’s susceptibility
to the common cold could not be made because the study did not provide direct
evidence of causality, but rather of a correlation between the two variables.

            My initial reaction the author’s
recommendations and conclusions is that I need to start sleeping more at night
in order to decrease my susceptibility to the common cold. I currently sleep for
just 5 to 6 hours per night, which puts me at a high risk of catching the
virus. Despite my frequent engagement in physical activity and fairly healthy
diet, I need to sleep more in order to be in the healthiest state I can be.
Again, in regard to something I took away from the article, I would say that I need
put more value into my sleep time. Most of the time, I sacrifice sleep in order
to study longer, play video games, or listen to music. However, this study
shows me that I should prioritize my sleep much higher, even if I only get an
extra hour, in order to maintain good health. From the research design, I took
that it is difficult to prove direct causality. However, with adequate data,
presumed correlations can be sufficiently supported and accepted by the
scientific community. In
the end, this study proved to be important because it provides the adequate
data necessary to support the fact that short sleep duration correlates with susceptibility
to the common cold. This is significant considering the fact that this
previously supposed or assumed correlation was backed up only by subjective measures
of sleep, which are biased.

 

Works Cited

Armitage, Hanae. Sep. 1, 2015 , 11:00 AM, et al. “Lack of Sleep
Puts You at Higher Risk for Colds, First Experimental Study Finds.” Science
| AAAS, 9 Dec. 2017,
www.sciencemag.org/news/2015/09/lack-sleep-puts-you-higher-risk-colds-first-experimental-study-finds. 

Prather, Aric A., et al. “Behaviorally Assessed Sleep and
Susceptibility to the Common Cold | Sleep | Oxford Academic.” OUP
Academic, Oxford University Press, 1 Sept. 2015,
academic.oup.com/sleep/article/38/9/1353/2417971?searchresult=1.