Study objectives: Short sleep duration and poor sleep continuity have been implicated in the susceptibility to infectious illness. However, prior research has relied on subjective measures of sleep, which are subject to recall bias. The aim of this study was to determine whether sleep, measured behaviorally using wrist actigraphy, predicted cold incidence following experimental viral exposure.
Design, measurements, and results: A total of 164 healthy men and women (age range, 18 to 55 y) volunteered for this study. Wrist actigraphy and sleep diaries assessed sleep duration and sleep continuity over 7 consecutive days. Participants were then quarantined and administered nasal drops containing the rhinovirus, and monitored over 5 days for the development of a clinical cold (defined by infection in the presence of objective signs of illness). Logistic regression analysis revealed that actigraphy- assessed shorter sleep duration was associated with an increased likelihood of development of a clinical cold. Specifically, those sleeping < 5 h (odds ratio [OR] = 4.50, 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.08-18.69) or sleeping between 5 to 6 h (OR = 4.24, 95% CI, 1.08-16.71) were at greater risk of developing the cold compared to those sleeping > 7 h per night; those sleeping 6.01 to 7 h were at no greater risk (OR = 1.66; 95% CI 0.40-6.95). This association was independent of prechallenge antibody levels, demographics, season of the year, body mass index, psychological variables, and health practices. Sleep fragmentation was unrelated to cold susceptibility. Other sleep variables obtained using diary and actigraphy were not strong predictors of cold susceptibility.
Conclusions: Shorter sleep duration, measured behaviorally using actigraphy prior to viral exposure, was associated with increased susceptibility to the common cold.
Keywords: common cold; immunity; rhinovirus; sleep continuity; sleep duration.
© 2015 Associated Professional Sleep Societies, LLC.