Research published in JAMA Internal Medicine reports that adults getting 5 hours or less sleep a night, or those with a sleep disorder, are more likely to catch a common cold or suffer from respiratory infections such as flu and pneumonia.

Do you suffer from constant colds? Could it be that you’re not getting enough sleep?

Between 2005 and 2012, 22,726 adults in the National Health & Nutrition Examination Surveys recorded sleep patterns, sleep disorders and visits to their GP regarding sleep problems.

When analysing the data against reported cold and flu symptoms, pneumonia and ear infections, the researchers found a link between sleep and respiratory infections.

According to the research, you are 17% more likely to catch a cold and 51% more likely to get an infection such as flu if you only get up to 5 hours of sleep per night. This compares with those who get 7 or more hours’ sleep.

So what can you do to get a good night’s sleep?

We all know sleep is important for general health and well-being, didn’t our mums always tell us?

Yet in our society, we seem to put sleep at the bottom of our priority list. Don’t worry though, there are lots of things you can do to help.

  • Get in to a routineWe see it with babies and children. The parent with the screaming toddler will quite likely tell you their child’s behaviour is down to them being ‘over tired’. We’re no different. Our bodies need a sleeping and waking routine, so get in to the habit of going to bed and waking up at the same times each day.
  • Take a napRather than having a lie in after a late night, take a short nap of no more than 20 minutes. It will help you re-charge.
  • Don’t snooze in front of the TVWe’ve all been there and we know what happens – wide awake when you go to bed. So get up and move around instead.
  • Get some natural lightIt helps production of melatonin in the brain, which is important for your sleep cycle. Use this as an excuse to get out of the office for a break from all that UV light.
  • Limit screen timeTurn off the computer and put away your tablets and phones at night. All that blue light can stop you from getting to sleep, as well as affecting the quality of your sleep.
  • ExerciseDuring the day, exercising can stimulate the brain and keep you from feeling too sleepy. It will also help you sleep better at night, but avoid exercising too late. You need at least 3 hours to calm down.
  • Avoid stimulantsCaffeine and alcohol are the obvious ones here. You use one to keep you awake and the other to wind down. Both disturb your sleep cycle and will stop you getting a decent night’s sleep.
  • And relax...Take a bath, read (but not on a backlit e-reader), take some deep breaths and if you’re having trouble managing stress, try to practice some mindfulness techniques.

Don’t go to bed with worries.

Write anything down that you might forget - so it’s not on your mind - and prepare what you need for the following day.

If you think your sleep problems are more serious, you should seek medical help.

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