When my family gathers for a few days over the holidays, usually someone brings along a sore throat or a cough. Try though that unlucky person may to keep the germs from spreading, they almost inevitably do.
I catch colds fairly easily, and I’ve often wondered if insomnia has a part in that. A new study suggests that chronic insomnia does—at a minimum—increase our susceptibility to influenza. Here’s more about the study and precautions poor sleepers can take to stay healthy over the holidays.
You’ve heard it said before: insomniacs typically overestimate how long it takes to fall asleep and underestimate the amount of sleep we get. Time and again, sleep experts ask us to estimate our sleep time. Then they conduct overnight sleep studies with polysomnography (PSG) and find, on average, that we fall asleep faster and sleep longer than we think.
Are insomniacs just unreliable when it comes to estimating time? What else might account for this discrepancy? Should we be reassured that we’re probably sleeping more than we think?
The October issue of the journal Sleep showcases research that may be sobering for people who struggle with chronic insomnia. Short sleepers—defined variously as people who report getting 5 or fewer, 6 or fewer, or less than 7 hours of sleep a night—are more vulnerable to a host of nasties, including obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, suicidal ideation, and dementia.
But sleep length is only one factor in the equation that predicts long-term health.