Ithaca Blog

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Get Sleep, Not Sick

Regular flu and cold season is approaching, with Ithacans already concerned about the prevalence in town of the H1N1 flu.

One hears the sensible advice to get vaccinated, and wash hands. A recent report by the Archives of Internal Medicine also stresses the importance of sleep.

Their research claims that people sleeping only 5 to 7 hours a night are three times as likely to get sick as those sleeping at least 8.

The main reason seems to be that the body produces more disease-fighting white blood cells in sleep.

Of course, it might also be that, in bed, one is isolated and safe.

Years ago, as a youth at Cornell - now the site of hundreds of cases of H1N1 flu - the smart guys I knew all recognized the value of sleep in fighting sickness, although some of the preferred methods of inducing sleep were probably counter-productive.

One that seemed to have the stamp of medicine was to drink an entire bottle of Nyquil, and then go to sleep for a long, long time, and wake up feeling fresh, but my guess is that the Archives of Internal Medicine did not even consider this an aspect worth studying, and without such reputable research, I can certainly not recommend it.

Instead, we are recommending simple common sense, such as the idea that you won't get sick while sleeping. So forget David Letterman, and go to bed.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

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