Improved Sleep Quality May Extend Your Lifespan

By Cailin Conner - Last Updated: March 15, 2023

Getting a good night’s sleep is already known to be essential for maintaining overall health; however, according to a study presented at the American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session Together With the World Congress of Cardiology, it could potentially add years to your life.

The study found that young people who have more beneficial sleep habits are incrementally less likely to die early. Furthermore, the data suggest that poor sleep patterns may contribute to about 8% of deaths from any cause. Highlighting the importance of getting restful sleep and not just enough hours of sleep, Frank Qian, MD, an internal medicine resident physician at Beth Israel Deaconess, stated in a recent press release: “We saw a clear dose-response relationship, so the more beneficial factors someone has in terms of having higher quality of sleep, they also have a stepwise lowering of all cause and cardiovascular mortality.”

The study included data from 172,321 participants from the National Health Interview Survey between 2013 and 2018. The survey, fielded each year  by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, includes questions pertaining to obtaining information about sleep and sleep habits. According to the researchers, this study is the first to use a nationally representative population to examine how several sleep behaviors, and not just sleep duration, might influence life expectancy.

Researchers investigated 5 difference factors of sleep quality, including ideal sleep duration of seven to eight hours a night; difficulty falling asleep no more than two times a week; trouble staying asleep no more than two times a week; not using any sleep medication; and feeling well rested after waking up at least five days a week. Each factor was assigned zero or one point, for a maximum of five points, which indicated the highest quality sleep.

Over the 4.3-year study period, a total of 8,681 individuals died. Of these, 30% were due to cardiovascular disease, 24% due to cancer, and 46% due to other causes. Compared with participants who had zero to one favorable sleep factors, those with all five were 30% less likely to die for any reason, 21% less likely to die due to cardiovascular disease, 19% less likely to die due to cancer. Furthermore, participants who reported having all 5 quality sleep measures had a life expectancy of more the 4.7 years for men and 2.4 years for women when compared against those who had none or only one of the five favorable elements of low-quality sleep.

“If people have all these ideal sleep behaviors, they are more likely to live longer. If we can improve sleep overall, and identifying sleep disorders is especially important, we may be able to prevent some of this premature mortality,” Dr. Qian said.

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