Short takes on sleep in the mews. OK, news.

Reading <i>Wuthering Heights</i> on your cell phone is likely to keep you up at night. Even if it's <i>Wuthering Heights</i>.

Reading Wuthering Heights on your cell phone is likely to keep you up at night. Even if it's Wuthering Heights.

Not getting enough rest greatly increases risk of getting sick

Sleeping six hours or fewer a night makes you much more likely to get sick, a study out of UC San Francisco finds.

Researchers determined that, compared with people who get seven or more hours of sleep, those who don’t get good rest were four times more likely to catch a cold when exposed to the virus via nasal drops, according to “It didn’t matter how old people were, their stress levels, their race, education or income,” said Aric Prather, lead author of the study. “It didn’t matter if they were a smoker.”

Though there is a growing body of evidence connecting regular sleep to overall health and disease prevention, this study is believed to be the first to objectively measure sleep habits and link them to illness.

E-readers tied to poor sleep

Using light-emitting tech devices, like smart phones, tablets and e-readers in bed before falling asleep can negatively affect quality of rest, suggests a small study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers monitored a dozen people who stayed at a sleep lab at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital for two weeks, according to Each participant spent five consecutive evenings reading a book for four hours under reflected light, and then spent five nights using an iPad for the same duration. All had mandatory bedtimes of 10 p.m. and had to wake up at 6 a.m.

The study subjects who used the e-readers had a significant shift in their melatonin levels in the evening, took 10 minutes longer to fall asleep, had nearly 12 minutes less rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and reported feeling more groggy the following morning.

Lack of sleep could cause permanent loss of some brain cells

Prolonged lack of sleep could be more serious than previously thought, a study involving mice suggests.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine kept the mice on sleep patterns similar to those of night workers—three consecutive night shifts with only four to five hours of sleep in each 24-hour period—finding that the mice permanently lost 25 percent of brain cells in part of the brain stem, according to BBC News.

The study’s authors said that the next step in research would be looking at the brains of night-shift workers after death for signs of damage, and suggested medicine could be developed in the future to protect the brain from the side-effects of lost sleep.

“[Mice] might be simple animals, but this suggests to us that we are going to have to look very carefully in humans,” said Sigrid Veasey of the Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology.

Treatment for sleep apnea improves sexual performance, in addition to other perks

Men who suspect they suffer from sleep apnea but fear that an awkward-looking CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine might cramp their style in the bedroom should reconsider getting tested, according to U.S. News and World Report. Not only does treatment increase restfulness, lower blood pressure and improve overall health, but it also can increase your performance in the bedroom, according to a recent study conducted at Walter Reed Military National Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

Researchers studied 92 men, average age 46, who began using CPAP machines after being diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. After six months of treatment, erectile dysfunction vanished in 41 percent of those who reported it. Others with diminished to normal libido also reported a boost in sexual performance.

The National Sleep Foundation estimates 18 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, but 90 percent may not know it.

Nearly 9 million Americans used prescription sleep medication in the last month

At least 8.6 million U.S. adults took some form of prescription sleep medication in the last 30 days, a new study concludes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracked 17,000 people aged 20 and over between 2005 and 2010, finding that roughly 4 percent of the country’s population took prescription sleep medication like Lunesta and Ambien within the previous month, according to NBC News.

Five percent of people in their 40s and 50s said they used sleep-aid medication, with that number rising to 7 percent among adults over 80 years old.

The study also found that 5 percent of women reported using sleep aids, compared to 3.1 percent of men—a number attributed to the strain women are under from trying to juggle the demands of work and family life.

Research finds sleep medication increases risk of death and cancer

The use of popularly prescribed sleeping medications has been linked to an increased risk of death and cancer, a recent study finds.

The report, published in the online journal BMJ Open and authored by researchers at the Viterbi Family Sleep Center at Scripps Health in San Diego, found that people who rely on sleep aids like Ambien and Restoril are increasing their risk of death by more than four times, according to Medical News Today. Research also found an increase in cancer and death among people who used the eight most popular sleeping medications no more than 18 times a year.

The study examined data from nearly 40,000 patients, including 10,529 patients who received soporific prescriptions and 23,676 control subjects who did not. The findings are especially relevant as the sleeping-aid sector of the pharmaceutical industry grew by 23 percent between 2006 and 2010, and between 6 and 10 percent of Americans took a hypnotic drug as a sleep aid in 2010.