Tag Archive for 'Sleep'

Sleeping for under seven hours a night greatly raises the risk of catching a cold, US research has suggested.

A team from Carnegie Mellon University found the risk was trebled compared with those who slept for eight hours or more a night.

It is thought that a lack of sleep impairs the immune system and the body’s ability to fight off the viruses that cause colds and flu.

The study appears in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

Previous research has suggested that people who sleep seven to eight hours a night have the lowest rates of heart disease.

However, there has been little direct evidence that getting a good night’s sleep can help ward off a cold.

The researchers studied 153 healthy men and women with an average age of 37 between 2000 and 2004.

Each was interviewed about their sleeping habits over a two-week period.

They were then quarantined and given nasal drops containing rhinovirus, which causes the common cold.

For the following five days the volunteers reported any signs and symptoms of illness, and had mucus samples collected from their nasal passages.

And 28 days after exposure to the virus, blood samples were taken from each volunteer so tests could be carried out to see if they had developed antibodies to fight infection.

Sleep quality

The less an individual slept, the more likely they were to develop a cold.

The quality of sleep also appeared to be important. Volunteers who spent less than 92% of their time in bed asleep were five-and-a-half times more likely to become ill than those who were asleep for at least 98% of their time in bed.

The researchers believe that lack of good quality sleep disturbs regulation of key chemicals produced by the immune system to fight infection.

Professor Ron Eccles, director of the Common Cold Centre at the University of Cardiff, said sleep and the immune system were closely linked.

He said: “The immune system may control the sleep-wake pattern and lack of sleep or sleep disturbance may depress the immune response to infection.

“I do believe there is enough information on this to indicate that lack of sleep or sleep disturbance will reduce our resistance to infections such as colds and flu.”

Dr Adrian Williams, director of the Sleep Disorders Centre, at St Thomas’ Hospital, London, said the study echoed previous work in animals suggesting sleep had an effect on immunity.

Dr Neil Stanley, a sleep expert at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, agreed that previous research had shown that poor sleep impacts on immunity, but he said there was little data on its effect on specific infections, such as colds and flu.

Eight Sleep Tips for Every Child

This article by Elizabeth Pantley, author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution

Up to 70% of children under age five have sleep problems. Sleep issues are complicated and have many causes. They’re hard to deal with because when children aren’t sleeping, parents aren’t sleeping, and that lack of sleep affects every minute of every day for every person in the family because lack of sleep isn’t just about being tired. Sleep has a role in everything — dawdling, temper tantrums, hyperactivity, growth, health, and even learning to tie his shoes and recite the ABCs. Sleep affects everything.

The following ideas are of value to almost any sleeper, of any age. These tips can bring improvement not only in your child’s sleep, but also in her daytime mood and last, but not least – improvements in your own sleep and outlook as well.

# 1 Maintain a consistent bedtime and awaking time.

Your child’s biological clock has a strong influence on her wakefulness and sleepiness. When you establish a set time for bedtime and wake up time you “set” your child’s clock so that it functions smoothly.

Aim for an early bedtime. Young children respond best with a bedtime between 6:30 and 7:30 P.M. Most children will sleep better and longer when they go to bed early.

# 2 Encourage regular daily naps.

Daily naps are important. An energetic child can find it difficult to go through the day without a rest break. A nap-less child will often wake up cheerful and become progressively fussier or hyper-alert as the day goes on. Also, the length and quality of naps affects night sleep – good naps equal better night sleep.

# 3 Set your child’s biological clock.

Take advantage of your child’s biology so that he’s actually tired when bedtime arrives. Darkness causes an increase in the release of the body’s sleep hormone — the biological “stop” button. You can align your child’s sleepiness with bedtime by dimming the lights during the hour before bedtime.

Exposing your child to morning light is pushing the “go” button in her brain — one that says, “Time to wake up and be active.” So keep your mornings bright!

# 4 Develop a consistent bedtime routine.

Routines create security. A consistent, peaceful bedtime routine allows your child to transition from the motion of the day to the tranquil state of sleep.

An organized routine helps you coordinate the specifics: bath, pajamas, tooth-brushing. It helps you to function on auto-pilot at the time when you are most tired and least creative.

# 5 Create a cozy sleep environment.

Where your child sleeps can be a key to quality sleep. Make certain the mattress is comfortable, the blankets are warm, the room temperature is right, pajamas are comfy, and the bedroom is welcoming.

# 6 Provide the right nutrition.

Foods can affect energy level and sleepiness. Carbohydrates can have a calming effect on the body, while foods high in protein or sugar generate alertness, particularly when eaten alone. A few ideas for pre-bed snacks are: whole wheat toast and cheese, bagel and peanut butter, oatmeal with bananas, or yogurt and low-sugar granola.

Vitamin deficiencies due to unhealthy food choices can affect a child’s sleep. Provide your child with a daily assortment of healthy foods.

# 7 Help your child to be healthy and fit.

Many children don’t get enough daily physical activity. Too much TV watching and a lack of activity prevents good sleep. Children who get ample daily exercise fall asleep more quickly, sleep better, stay asleep longer, and wake up feeling refreshed.

Avoid activity in the hour before bedtime though, since exercise is stimulating – they’ll be jumping on the bed instead of sleeping in it!

# 8 Teach your child how to relax.

Many children get in bed but aren’t sure what to do when they get there! It can help to follow a soothing pre-bed routine that creates sleepiness. A good pre-bed ritual is story time. A child who is listening to a parent read a book or tell a tale will tend to lie still and listen. This quiet stillness allows him to become sleepy.

Work with these eight ideas and you’ll see improvements in your child’s sleep, and yours too.