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How can I get sick less often?

15-03-2015

How can I get sick less often?

No one likes getting sick. It holds you back from your life, from your work and it can range from unpleasant to downright awful feeling. You only have to open a magazine or turn on the TV to be exposed to a million and one different elixirs and potions that promote good health but rather than wasting your money on a bunch of minerals and vitamins that will mostly be expelled by the body (seriously, look at your urine after taking these types of supplements and see how bright it is, that is all your hard earned money being flushed down the toilet) there is one thing you can do that will ensure that you not only get sick less often but also recover faster when you do get sick... what is this magic potion and where can I get it, you ask? Well for zero easy payments of nothing you can get this remedy this evening, and every evening. In fact, many of us have been taking it regularly night after night for many years, though just as many have not unlocked its full potential.

So what is it? Well it is not a potion, or an elixir or any other tangible substance. It is sleep. Yes, good old fashioned sleep. Before any of you go ‘well I have been sleeping my whole life so what good does this information do me?’ you need hear us out. Sure you may have been sleeping your entire life but have you been sleeping well each and every night? Many studies estimate that there is a pandemic of chronic sleep deprivation across the developed world, with between a quarter and a third of all adults thought to be chronically sleep deprived. Yes, that means that of all the people you interact with on a daily basis, either every third or fourth person is exhausted and is permanently exhausted. That means that while many of us are taking this potion every night (you get what we mean!) many of us are not and that is causing us to be sicker more and for longer than we need to be (amongst a whole bunch of other issues).

There are plenty of studies that have looked into this but one in particular is of interest as it connects the sleep, sickness and work together, showing how they are all connected. The research was done by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it demonstrates vital it is for the adults to get a decent night’s sleep each and every night.

In the study, which looked at 3,760 men and women in Finland who had been working during the previous year and were aged between 30-64 years at baseline, it was found that those who were not sleeping for a healthy amount each night were far more likely to have more sick days. 

Principal investigator Tea Lallukka, PhD, a specialized researcher at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, explains that “Optimal sleep duration should be promoted, as very long and very short sleep indicate health problems and subsequent sickness absence. Those sleeping five hours or less, or 10 hours or more, were absent from work every year for 4.6 to 8.9 days more, as compared to those with the optimal sleep length.”

The study also concluded that their “Results show that the risk of an extended absence from work due to sickness rose sharply among those who reported sleeping less than 6 hours or more than 9 hours per night. Further analysis found that the optimal sleep duration with the lowest risk of sickness absence from work was between 7 and 8 hours per night: 7 hours, 38 minutes for women and 7 hours, 46 minutes for men. Insomnia-related symptoms, early morning awakenings, feeling more tired than others, and using sleeping pills also were consistently associated with a significant increase in workdays lost due to sickness.”

The researchers used a questionnaire to work out the sleep characteristics and the health measures of the participants were determined using a physical examination. They also gathered sick day data from the Social Insurance Institutions of Finland. To collate all the information the researchers then employed a new statistical method that predicted the average sick day absences per working year with the conclusion that the direct cost of sickness absence to the Finnish government and Finnish employers could be slashed by 28 percent if the problems regarding sleep disturbances were fully addressed.
 

“Insomnia symptoms should be detected early to help prevent sickness absence and deterioration in health, well-being and functioning,” added Lallukka, “Successful prevention of insomnia not only promotes health and work ability among employees, but it can also lead to notable savings in reduced sickness absence costs.”

This study is yet another piece of scientific evidence that shows how important sleep is for preventing sickness (and for getting over a sickness when you fall ill). While you may think that you are sleeping enough at night many people do not get enough sleep or they suffer from any one of the common sleep disorders such as sleep apnea. If you think that you are getting sick more often than you should be or are struggling to shake off the sickness that you get then the answer may be that you are simply not getting enough sleep. The solution is simple (though also quite difficult), you need to work on getting more sleep. Fortunately we have a huge range of different articles on our website that can help you with a vast range of suggestions about how you can sleep better and sleep longer. Good luck and good night!


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