Quality sleep could add years to your life, study finds
Not getting enough sleep? It could be shortening your life, a new study suggests.
According to research from the American College of Cardiology released Thursday, getting the right amount of good sleep each night can play a role in heart and overall health, which could in turn add years to your life. The data also suggests that about 8% of deaths could be attributed to poor sleep patterns.
Dr. Frank Qian, co-author of the study and clinical fellow in medicine at Harvard Medical School, told CBS News that sleep impacts many aspects of health, from hormones and metabolism to mental health and memory. From his and his team’s analysis, he was most surprised with the “potential life expectancy gain… with just fairly simple sleep quality improvements.”
The qualities they identified include:
- Getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night
- Having trouble falling asleep no more than twice a week
- Having trouble staying asleep no more than twice a week
- Not using sleep medications
- Waking up feeling rested at least five days a week
While this may resemble a typical nightly routine for some, for others, especially those who rely on medication for a solid night of sleep, meeting the goals on this list could pose a challenge. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than a third of Americans don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis.
The study found that for those who reported meeting all five of the sleep measures listed, life expectancy was 4.7 years greater for men and 2.4 years greater for women, compared to people who met only one or none of the criteria on the list.
For those getting enough hours of sleep but still not feeling rested, Qian says it could indicate a number of things, including going to sleep distracted, sleeping in a less-than-optimal environment or having untreated sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that causes someone to intermittently stop breathing while asleep.
But he admits no one’s sleep is perfect, and that’s OK — to an extent.
“Certainly all of us… have those nights where we might be staying up late doing something or stressed out about the next day,” Qian explains. “If that’s a fairly limited number of days a week where that’s happening, it seems like that’s OK, but if it’s occurring more frequently then that’s where we run into problems.”
The research was an observational study analyzing data from 172,321 people who participated in the National Health Interview Survey between 2013 and 2018, which is fielded each year by the CDC and the National Center for Health Statistics.
More research is needed to understand the differing results between the sexes as well as what types of sleep aids or medicines are a factor and their impact.