A new study has affirmed the role of sleep in supporting immune levels, suggesting that people who sleep under six or more than nine hours are at higher risk of getting sick.

The study stressed that poor sleep can increase an individual’s risk of developing infections, such as colds and flu.

The latest study, which was published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry, found a substantial correlation between sleep and infection, highlighting the link between persistent sleep issues, as reported by the individual, and greater rates of infection and antibiotic use.

The research conducted a cross-sectional study of 1,848 unselected patients in the waiting rooms of general practitioners in Norway to determine whether self-reported measures of chronic insomnia disorder, chronic sleep issues, sleep length, and circadian preference were linked to the risk of infections and antibiotic use.

At the end of the survey, the study discovered that the risk of infection was 27 per cent and 44 per cent higher in patients sleeping below six hours or more than nine hours.

“Those who reported sleeping more than 9 hours were 44% more likely to report an infection compared to those who slept 7-8 hours,” Ingeborg Forthun, PhD, a researcher at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and co-author of the study, told Healthline.

On the other hand, she continued, “those who reported sleeping less than 6 hours were 27% more likely to report an infection.”

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The study also discovered that those who obtained less than six hours of sleep each night or had chronic insomnia were more likely to require antibiotics to tackle their infection.

A neurologist at Houston Methodist and medical director for Brain Wellness at Woodlands Hospital, Dr. Randall Wright, told Healthline that the study is a testament to why everyone should prioritise sleep.

He added, “Sleep is a time to save and reset the body. We get to replenish many of the chemicals that our body needs. It is a time for our immune system to bolster itself.”

Another medical director at Indiana Sleep Center, Dr. Abhinav Singh, said not getting too enough sleep can hinder white blood cells from reaching affected sites in the body.

He told Healthline, “White blood cells are a vital element of our immune system and help the body fight off infections caused by viruses and bacteria.

“Lack of sleep can also cause the body to release more of the stress hormones adrenaline and prostaglandin shared Singh. This is critical, as they “lower levels of integrin, a molecule that helps T-cells (part of white blood cells) stick to virus-infected cells and kill them.”