Are People Who Get Less Sleep More Likely to Get Sick?

Getting less sleep than a person should can result in a weakened immune system, increasing the chances that one can get sick. Some experts point out that if a person gets only five hours of sleep per night over a period of five days, his or her immune system is weakened by 50%. One study showed that participants who slept fewer than seven hours a night and were then exposed to a cold virus were three times as likely to come down with a cold as study participants who got at least eight hours of sleep per night.

More about sleep and illnesses:

  • Doctors recommend that the average adult get seven to eight hours of sleep every night. Children and teenagers should get at least nine hours.

  • During sleep, people produce substances called cytokines that are crucial in fighting off infection. Less sleep means fewer cytokines, increasing a person's susceptibility to illness.

  • Adults who oversleep are generally at a greater risk of developing health problems such as obesity, depression and heart trouble. Oversleeping in adults is defined as more than nine or 10 hours per night.

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Discussion Comments


Well, From my experience - If you can't sleep, take a warm bath. I believe that's the best solution or at least with the highest possibility of success.


For sure, sleep is a problem for many of us and yet there does not seem to be a sleep Doctor, teeth practical Doctor or another kind that seems to have the answers.

I have been to all of them including Mayo and no one has an answer. The breathing apparatus works for some, but not for long. The best advice I've been given is to sleep when you can, and do just that.

All the darkened rooms, etc. just don't work. It is a terrible problem as one goes through the day in a coma, not really on their toes to deal with life the way they should. Good luck to all who seek sleep! -- Jack S.


I barely sleep for five hours every night. Lately I have been having a bad headache. It's been consistent for the last two months. I've been through so many tests and they found nothing significant. Now I guess I know why.


I am a student and I always have a lot of assignments. Sometimes I don't even sleep at all, let alone five hours.


Many older people sleep some in the afternoon and then some more overnight. Is the amount of sleep in total over 24 hours or per night regardless of the time slept during the day?


Sleep deprivation is a vicious tool of gang stalkers and in tandem with physical and psychological torture is designed to destroy the target, and in fact, to murder slowly.

Sleep deprivation fundamentally changes the very nature of a person's life, both physically and psychologically, and is a primary tool of torture.


There are times you would go to bed early intending to sleep for at least seven hours, but you spend an hour or so awake thereby reducing the hours of sleep. What would you do in such a case?

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