The common cold is one of the most obnoxious illnesses that sweeps the country every fall and winter. It may not be particularly dangerous or painful, but there’s nothing you can do to get rid of it besides wait it out. Instead of looking for cold cures in a couple months, learn how you can prevent them now.
The Common Cold Risk Factors
There are several risk factors that put you at a heightened danger for the common cold. If you have any of the following risk factors, it is particularly important to take preventative care steps now and protect your health:
- Weakened immune system
- Frequent exposure to an elderly or sickly population
- Poor diet or little exercise
- Bad sleep habits
The Importance of Getting Enough Sleep
Yes, it’s true: getting too little sleep can worsen your risk of a cold and weaken your immune system to the point that it is ready to accept whatever illness or disease may come its way.
Unfortunately, sleep trends are heading the wrong way. Rather than getting more sleep, adults today get less sleep than they did even 20 years ago. Scientists point to eight hours as the ideal amount of sleep, but even in the 1980s, the average was just 7.5 hours. Today, it’s 7.18 hours.
When you sleep, your body has time to heal. It recovers from pathogens and toxins that it may have been exposed to during the day and prepares for another full day. If you do not get enough sleep, the healing process is short-circuited. Your immune system suffers, your reaction time goes down, and you become a sitting duck for the common cold.
How Much Sleep You Need
At minimum, scientists say, you should be getting at least six hours of sleep per night. In a recently released study, adults who slept fewer than six hours per night were 4.5 times more likely to catch the common cold than those who slept six hours or more per night.
However, it is likely that you still need more sleep. Decades of research indicate that the perfect amount of sleep for an adult lies somewhere between seven and nine hours per night. It varies for each adult, so it’s important to figure out how much sleep your body naturally needs and then try to stick to that.
It is fairly easy to determine how much sleep your body wants. One night, go to sleep at a reasonable hour when you are moderately tired. Make sure you do not need to be up at a specific time the next morning. Allow yourself to drift off. The amount you sleep when you do not have to burn the midnight oil or be up at a specific time is how much sleep your body needs.
It’s also important to make sure that you get the same amount of sleep each night. Don’t fall into the trap of staying up too late during the week and then trying to catch up on the weekends. Over time, this wears down your body and has an extremely negative impact on your health.
This Site Was Inspired By An Interest in Protecting the Environment:
We had the privilege and joy of learning from Dr. Charlie Stine who instilled a love for the natural world through incredible field trips with the Johns Hopkins Odyssey Certificate program in Environmental Studies. At the time, the program was endorsed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Sadly, after Dr. Stine retired, the program was phased out. We hope that we honor his legacy by shining a bright light on environmental issues and sharing good news about the success of various conservation programs when possible.
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