Good quality sleep is more important than getting the recommended seven to nine hours when it comes to keeping illnesses at bay, a study suggests.
ew research has found people who do not get quality sleep or enough sleep are nearly three times as likely to fall ill with colds, flu and other diseases such as Covid-19.
However, it also showed good quality sleep can effectively make up for sleeping less than the recommended amount when it comes to bolstering the immune system to help fight viral infections.
Prof Neil Walsh, of Liverpool John Moores University, said his team’s findings – published in the journal Sleep – “change the way we should think about sleep and health”.
The lead researcher said: “Sleep is important for mental and physical health, including our ability to fight infection.
“The UK National Sleep Foundation recommends ad- ults get seven to nine hours sleep each night.
“Yet many of us restrict our sleep to make way for our busy lives.
“But when you restrict your sleep, you are not necessarily going to be more likely to get sick – it really depends on your quality.”
The scientists followed 1,318 recruits to the military for 12 weeks.
Their work involved tracking the participants’ sleep patterns and health in the weeks before training and after joining the military, where they had to follow strict wake-up routines.
On average, the participants were found to sleep two hours less during military training than in civilian life.
However, the researchers noted that more than half with sleep restriction rated their sleep as good quality.
Recruits who reported sleep restriction during training were nearly three times as likely to suffer with respiratory infection, they found.
The researchers found sleep restriction only increased infection among those reporting poor sleep quality, while good sleep quality protected against respiratory illnesses, despite the shorter duration.