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Don't want to get sick? What you need to do!

Some people seem to have been hit hard with the flu &/or cold this season. The flu vaccine has been largely ineffective in five of the last seven flu seasons and preliminary data shows that we may have missed again. Luckily, there are other preventive measures you can take. Most of us know about the importance of washing our hands and eating a healthy diet, but what about sleep?

The importance of good quality sleep is often overlooked. Many people are sleep deprived going to bed late and waking up early. Some reasons are valid, but others choose to incur this sleep debt.

A study reported in the January 12 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine reports that quality and duration of sleep affects your susceptibility to the common cold. Healthy volunteers had their sleep assessed for two weeks and were then inoculated with nasal drops containing the rhinovirus, a common bug that causes the common cold.

Those who slept less than 7 hours per night were 2.94 times more likely to get a cold than those with 8 hours of sleep. Those with less than 92% sleep efficiency - a measure of quality of sleep - were 5.50 times more likely to get a cold.

These results could not be explained by differences in pre-virus antibody titers, demographics, season/weather, body mass, socioeconomic status, psychological variables and health practices.

So, get your sleep to prevent getting sick. Some may draw the conclusion that 8 hours of sleep is best from this study, but in my opinion, people need more. People tend to say that their optimal sleep duration is 8 hours when asked, but I rarely find that to be the case. For some reason, people feel that's the right response when asked. Challenge yourself: How long would you sleep for if not awakened by an alarm clock? Do you feel rested when you wake up?

Yours in health,

Ian Koo, ND
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
"The care you want, the health you need"

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