Lack of sleep, not alcohol, is the main cause of freshers’ flu

Less than six hours could be crippling

A lack of sleep during the first week of uni means you’re four times more likely to catch freshers’ flu.

Puffy eyes, dry throats, runny noses and throbbing headaches are the first major health scare of any new student’s time at university and normally put down to a hangover.

But scientists claim having little sleep is more important than the amount you drink or smoke when it comes to making you ill, meaning the gruelling stretch of nights out clubbing instead of sleeping is worse for you.

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You’re not hungover, you’re just really tired

A group of scientists from the University of California, San Franscisco believe they have discovered the most important cause: a lack of sleep.

In a study published in the journal Sleep the scientists found that people who do not get enough sleep are most susceptible to the common cold virus.

164 men and women with an average age of 30 took part in the 12 day study: For seven consecutive days wrist actigraphy and sleep diaries were used to assess sleep duration and continuity. The volunteers were then quarantined, the common cold virus sprayed into their noses, and monitored for five further days to see if they developed a cold.

It was found those adults who had, on average, five or six hours sleep a night were four times more likely to catch a cold than those who slept at least seven hours.

Although the study included other important factors like alcohol use and social background, sleep was found to be the most important.

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Aric Prather, assistant professor of psychiatry at University College, San Francisco told The Daily Mail: “Sleep goes beyond all the other factors that were measured. It didn’t matter how old people were, their stress levels, their race, education or income.

“‘It didn’t matter if they were a smoker.

“With all those things taken into account, statistically sleep still carried the day and was an overwhelmingly strong predictor for susceptibility to the cold virus.”