HELSINKI, June 8 (Xinhua) -- Sleep disorders make people more vulnerable to influenza and other respiratory infections, including COVID-19, which may require hospitalization, according to a study conducted by the University of Helsinki and the Harvard Medical School in cooperation with the Yale and Stanford Universities.
The research used data from more than 600,000 participants, the University of Helsinki said Thursday in a press release.
Among the Finnish participants diagnosed with insomnia, the risk of developing an unspecified respiratory infection was almost six times higher, and the risk of catching influenza was more than four times higher than among the other participants.
The study used genetic epidemiology methods to examine a possible link between insomnia and infections, the university said.
The findings also revealed a link between insomnia and the severity of COVID-19 symptoms, in the worst cases requiring hospitalization.
"Our results are in line with earlier literature and show that getting enough sleep is important for maintaining an effective immune defense," said Hanna Ollila from the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland at the University of Helsinki, in the press release.
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, about 30 percent of adults suffer from sleep problems. Therefore, the new findings are expected to have a big impact on improving public health practices, the press release added.
An article detailing the findings of the research was published in eBioMedicine, a peer-reviewed open-access medical journal, on June 8.