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Research Letter
June 2016

Association of Insufficient Sleep With Respiratory Infection Among Adults in the United States

Author Affiliations
  • 1Center for Health and Community, University of California–San Francisco
JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176(6):850-852. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.0787

Sleep is increasingly recognized as an important determinant of health and well-being. Approximately 50 million to 70 million Americans have either a sleep disorder or habitually insufficient sleep.1 How insufficient sleep ultimately affects disease risk remains unclear. Experimental evidence demonstrates that sleep loss can adversely affect components of the immune system critical to host resistance to infectious illness. Furthermore, short sleep duration and sleep disturbances prospectively predict increased susceptibility to upper respiratory infection after an experimental viral challenge.2,3 Despite this evidence and the common belief that risk of infectious illness increases during periods of insufficient sleep, to our knowledge this has not been investigated at the population level. We examined associations between self-reported measures of sleep and the probability of occurrence of colds and infections, including influenza, pneumonia, and ear infections, in a nationally representative sample of adults.