A study from Liv­er­pool John Moores Uni­ver­si­ty sug­gests that a good night’s sleep out­per­forms a longer one.

A new study has found that peo­ple who don’t get enough sleep, or don’t get enough sleep, are almost three times more like­ly to get colds. But it has also been found that good sleep qual­i­ty — defined as no toss­ing and turn­ing dur­ing the night and falling asleep quick­ly — can effec­tive­ly off­set too few hours in bed when it comes to boost­ing the immune sys­tem.

The results of the work, accord­ing to sci­en­tists, should “change our under­stand­ing of sleep and health.” In a first-of-its-kind study, they fol­lowed 1,318 mil­i­tary recruits for 12 weeks. Their job was to track par­tic­i­pants’ sleep pat­terns and health sta­tus for sev­er­al weeks before train­ing and after enlist­ing in the mil­i­tary, where they had to fol­low a strict wake-up rou­tine.

On aver­age, par­tic­i­pants slept two hours less dur­ing the exer­cise. How­ev­er, the researchers not­ed that more than half of peo­ple with sleep restric­tion rat­ed their sleep as good. Recruits who expe­ri­enced sleep restric­tion dur­ing train­ing were near­ly three times more like­ly to suf­fer res­pi­ra­to­ry infec­tions, the team said. This was done after tak­ing into account fac­tors that may have influ­enced these types of dis­eases, such as the time of year and smok­ing.

How­ev­er, sleep restric­tion only increased the risk of infec­tion among those who report­ed poor sleep qual­i­ty. Sci­en­tists say that qual­i­ty sleep pro­tects against any res­pi­ra­to­ry dis­eases, despite the short­er dura­tion. Experts have pre­vi­ous­ly found that poor sleep in pre-pan­dem­ic times increased the sever­i­ty of COVID-19.

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