HealthDay News — Those who sleep less than six hours a night may be more than four times as likely to catch a cold as those who get more than seven hours of sleep, according to research published in the September issue of SLEEP.

Aric Prather, PhD, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues aimed to determine whether sleep, measured behaviorally using wrist actigraphy, predicted cold incidence following experimental viral exposure. Participants in this study were healthy Pittsburgh residents ages 18 to 55. All took part in a two-month health screening process between 2007 and 2011. In the week leading up to their exposure to the cold virus, researchers monitored participants’ usual sleep patterns. Afterward, all were quarantined in a hotel for five days and given nasal drops containing a cold virus.

The researchers found that cold risk was 4.2 times greater for those who slept less than six hours a night and 4.5 times greater for those who slept five hours or less a night, when compared with those getting more than seven hours a night. The findings held up even after accounting for factors such as time of year, weight and obesity status, income, education background, self-declared stress levels, smoking status, exercise routines, and drinking habits.

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“Shorter sleep duration, measured behaviorally using actigraphy prior to viral exposure, was associated with increased susceptibility to the common cold,” the authors conclude.


  1. Prather AA et al. Sleep. 2015; doi: 10.5665/sleep.4968.