Chapters 9-11 of Germ Proof Your Kids – The Complete Guide to Protecting (without Overprotecting) Your Family from Infections (ASM Press, Washington, D.C., 2008) are entirely devoted to the scientific basis behind Mom’s wisdom for protecting kids from infections. Prominently featured in Chapter 11 is the importance of adequate sleep – sleep deprivation depresses the immune system and makes kids (and adults) more susceptible to germs.
The viruses that cause colds and flu are circulating throughout the year, but are especially prevalent this time of year. Yet, although all of us are exposed to these viruses repeatedly, it is our immune systems that determine if we get sick and how severe our colds and flu episodes become. Getting 4 hours of sleep each night results in a reduction by half in the immunity to influenza (Chapter 11, Germ Proof Your Kids). A study from Carnegie Mellon University receiving wide publicity this week shows that the chances of getting a common cold are 3-5 times higher in adults who get fewer than 7 hours sleep each night or have trouble sleeping through the night. These results are consistent with those of past studies – just as mom (and I) have been preaching.
Kids’ bedtimes are a matter of health. Keep your kids in school and yourselves at work during this cold and flu season – get a good night’s sleep, every night.