Danny EckmanLackof Sleep Related to Colds For years, the importance of sleep hasbeen highlighted as a key to overcoming the common cold. Furthermore,scientists have contended that a lack of sleep results in a weakened immunesystem, which is more susceptible to a virus.In spite of this being a well-known and widely-discussed topic, the correlationbetween the lack of shut-eye and susceptibility to a cold has never had hardevidence to support it. Recently, however, scientists teamed up to tackle thequestion: Does a lack of sleep correlate with a higher risk for colds? In thisstudy, the independent variable, hours of sleep per night, was recorded andmonitored for its effect on the dependent variable, the degree of susceptibilityto the common cold. This correlational, two-part studylooked at 164 healthy individuals who volunteered to have their nightly sleepdata collected for one week.
The scientists carefully monitored the volunteers’sleep by utilizing wrist actigraphy, a watchlike device that monitors movementduring sleep, and by keeping sleep diaries, which detailed sleep duration andcontinuity (Prather). In order to track each patient’s time slept, theresearchers determined that a certain amount of movement tracked by the wristactigraphy data would constitute for wakefulness; the time in this stage waslater subtracted from the time asleep in order to accurately determine one’saverage hours of sleep per night (Armitage). In the second portion of thestudy, “scientists quarantined the participants in a hotel and gave them nosedrops contaminated with the rhinovirus —the virus responsible for the commoncold” (Armitage). Following that step, the “researchers drew the volunteers’blood and tested for their levels of rhino virus antibody, which would biasinfection rates of the group” (Armitage). After five days of seclusion, thosedeemed to be “sick” had to show one “objective sign of illness,” as well asanother immune response (Prather). Finally, by weighing snot assessing one’scongestion, the participant was declared either ill or healthy. Overall, “ofthe 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 hourswere 4.
2 times more likely to get sick, while those who slept 6 to 7 hours ranthe 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 susceptibilityto the common cold could not be made because the study did not provide directevidence of causality, but rather of a correlation between the two variables. My initial reaction the author’srecommendations and conclusions is that I need to start sleeping more at nightin order to decrease my susceptibility to the common cold. I currently sleep forjust 5 to 6 hours per night, which puts me at a high risk of catching thevirus. Despite my frequent engagement in physical activity and fairly healthydiet, 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 needput more value into my sleep time. Most of the time, I sacrifice sleep in orderto study longer, play video games, or listen to music. However, this studyshows me that I should prioritize my sleep much higher, even if I only get anextra hour, in order to maintain good health. From the research design, I tookthat it is difficult to prove direct causality. However, with adequate data,presumed correlations can be sufficiently supported and accepted by thescientific community. Inthe end, this study proved to be important because it provides the adequatedata necessary to support the fact that short sleep duration correlates with susceptibilityto the common cold. This is significant considering the fact that thispreviously supposed or assumed correlation was backed up only by subjective measuresof sleep, which are biased. Works CitedArmitage, Hanae.
Sep. 1, 2015 , 11:00 AM, et al. “Lack of SleepPuts 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 andSusceptibility to the Common Cold | Sleep | Oxford Academic.” OUPAcademic, Oxford University Press, 1 Sept.