Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Study released on the study of sleep

By Staff

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Courtesy MCT

It doesn’t take a scientist to realize your mother was right when she said if you don’t get enough sleep you’re going to get sick. But recently, one has confirmed your mother’s words.

Erol Fikrig, a professor in the School of Medicine at Yale University, recently published a study that focuses on how the body’s circadian rhythm can affect a person’s immune system.

The body’s circadian rhythm operates on a 24-hour cycle controlled by several different mental and physical processes a person administers throughout the day. As most college students can understand, our behaviors can affect our brain, and our brain controls this rhythm.

Therefore, Fikrig and his colleague Dr. Adam Silver, who also contributed to the report, have concluded that if a person does not get enough sleep their circadian rhythm will be thrown off, which can greatly affect a person’s immune system.

Alan Calhoun, the medical director of University Health Services at the University of Massachusetts, agrees that one way to keep a stable immune system is to have a balanced circadian rhythm.

“Circadian rhythm is your body’s innate biologic biorhythm which has a lot to do with how we evolve. Your circadian rhythm has a whole bunch of hormones that are released at certain times of the day,” said Calhoun.

Calhoun added that sleep is more important than people realize.

Conrad Weiss, a sophomore at UMass, said he always acknowledged what his parents told him as a child, but never really listened.

“When I was that age I always thought it was just a ploy for them to get me to go to bed earlier. Then as I got older, I started to realize how important sleep is for your health,” said Weiss.

Calhoun mentions that for unknown reasons, our body craves certain amounts of sleep. The average amount of sleep a person needs can vary for different people, but most should be sleeping anywhere between eight to 11 hours a night.

For those nights you spend tossing and turning and just wish you could fall asleep, Calhoun recommends avoiding NyQuil at all costs.

According to Calhoun, NyQuil is a combination product for the common cold, not a product meant only to help people fall asleep. What makes students feel drowsy is the antihistamine, which is also an ingredient in Benadryl. With NyQuil, a student is ingesting that same antihistamine found in Tylenol, a decongestant and cough suppressant; all extra things their body does not need to have a good night’s sleep.

Weiss said the times he has taken NyQuil in hopes of falling asleep, because he feels it has plenty of power to knock him out, but added that it has made him feel hung over the next morning.

When asked if sleeping pills are a better way to regulate one’s sleep patterns, Calhoun responded, “The answer is clearly no. It’s a way to manipulate how you feel. Is it dangerous to take an antihistamine like Benadryl to sleep every once and a while? No,” said Calhoun.

Similar to other UMass students, Brendan Nolan heard the same speech from his parents but never understood why sleep was so vital. It wasn’t until his sleep patterns were suffering from heavy loads of school work that he said the message sank in.

“I never believed my mother until this past year when I came down with flu-like symptoms as I was studying for three tests in two days. Clearly it was because I had not gotten enough sleep,” said Nolan.

Nolan said his sleeping patterns are very important to him, but sometimes he finds his school work and other factors can get in the way.

Nolan said he draws advice on sleep from the famous quote said by Benjamin Franklin, “Early to sleep, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”

With such advice, Nolan said he will always make sure to get a good night’s sleep that his body deserves.

Brittney Figueira can be reached at [email protected]



2 Responses to “Study released on the study of sleep”

  1. byronrobinson on March 5th, 2012 12:24 am

    My friend was at a major store last week that would not give their Rewards coupon if you used a newspaper coupon for the item. They said it was their policy!!! i told her to check “Get Official Samples” to find samples

  2. mason on March 5th, 2012 4:30 am

    This is not a new revelation, studies have shown a correlation between sleeping well and immune system functioning for decades.

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