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Nightmare! Sleeping for less than six hours a night could increase your risk of getting infections by more than a quarter, study suggests

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Sleeping less than six hours a night could increase your risk of getting infections, a study suggests. Researchers asked 1,848 people in GP surgeries in Norway how much sleep they got each night on average.

Then they asked if they had suffered a respiratory infection such as a cold or a stomach bug, urinary tract infection

(UTI), skin or eye infection or another type of infection in the previous three months.

Those who said they slept less than six hours a night were 27 per cent more likely to have had an infection in the past three months compared to those getting enough sleep – the recommended seven to eight hours a night.

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The study may have been too small to provide many clear trends between lack of sleep and specific infections.

Those who said they slept less than six hours a night were 27 per cent more likely to have had an infection in the past three months compared to those getting enough sleep – the recommended seven to eight hours a night

Researchers from the University of Bergen (pictured) asked 1,848 people in GP surgeries in Norway how much sleep they got each night on average

But the results show people getting less than six hours of sleep were 92 per cent more likely to have had a stomach bug involving vomiting or diarrhoea.

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Meanwhile those with insomnia were 41 per cent more likely to have had a UTI.

There is some evidence suggesting that too little sleep makes the immune system less able to fight off an infection, but more research is needed.

Previous studies have found people infected with a cold virus are more likely to actually get a cold, having failed to fight the virus off, if they are deprived of sleep.

Dr Ingeborg Forthun, who led the study from the University of Bergen in Norway, said: ‘Sleep is important not only for people’s wellbeing, but also for their health, including their body’s ability to fight an infection.

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‘Increased awareness of the importance of sleep is needed in the general public and among physicians.’

The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry, found almost 54 per cent of people surveyed in doctors’ surgeries had suffered an infection in the past three months.

Those who slept less than six hours were 57 per cent more likely to have been given antibiotics in the previous three months.

The researchers say sleeping the recommended amount could reduce infections.

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However those who reported sleeping for more than nine hours were 44 per cent more likely to have had an infection than people sleeping seven to eight hours a night. Sleeping for too long may be a sign of underlying poor health.

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