Researchers have determined five healthy sleeping habits that could help you live longer.
In a five-year study, researchers analyzed sleep and sleep habit data from more than 172,000 adults in the U.S. who responded to an annual survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Health Statistics between 2013 and 2018. The average age of the participants was 50, with two-thirds self-reporting they were white, 14.5% Hispanic, 12.6% Black and 5.5% Asian.
Researchers looked at five factors of quality sleep: sleep duration, difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, use of sleep medication and feeling well-rested after sleeping.
Participants who got seven to eight hours of sleep per night, fell asleep easily, stayed asleep throughout the night, refused to use sleep medication and woke up feeling well-rested received higher scores.
The researchers found that those who followed all five good-quality sleep habits were less likely to die early: up to two and a half years may be added to a woman’s life expectancy, and almost five years to a man’s.
Additionally, they found that about 8% of all deaths could be attributed to poor sleep patterns.
“If people have all these ideal sleep behaviors, they are more likely to live longer,” said Frank Qian, MD, co-author of the study, internal medicine resident physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and clinical fellow in medicine at Harvard Medical School. “So, if we can improve sleep overall, and identifying sleep disorders is especially important, we may be able to prevent some of this premature mortality.”
Individuals who exhibited all five factors were “30% less likely to die for any reason, 21% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease, 19% less likely to die from cancer, and 40% less likely to die of causes other than heart disease or cancer,” according to the study.
“Even from a young age, if people can develop these good sleep habits of getting enough sleep, making sure they are sleeping without too many distractions and have good sleep hygiene overall, it can greatly benefit their overall long-term health,” Qian said.
“It’s important for younger people to understand that a lot of health behaviors are cumulative over time. Just like we like to say, ‘it’s never too late to exercise or stop smoking,’ it’s also never too early. And we should be talking about and assessing sleep more often.”
Existing research has already shown that too little or too much sleep can affect heart health.
This new study, however, looks at how several sleep behaviors, not just sleep duration, might influence life expectancy. Qian said more research on sleep factors and life expectancy is needed.
Qian and his fellow researchers will present their findings at a cardiology conference hosted by The American College of Cardiology and the World Heart Federation in New Orleans on March 6.