A recent (February 2023) study published by the American College of Cardiology has found that five sleep habits in particular hold the key to good health and a longer life.
The study showed that young people who have food and sleep hygiene are incrementally less likely to die young. What’s more, the data shows that 8% of deaths from any cause can be attributed to poor-quality sleep patterns.
The researchers stated that the more benefits someone received from good quality sleep, the lower their case was of experiencing death from all causes—including cardiovascular problems.
It’s Not All About Quantity
The scientists stated that sleep quantity (getting seven to nine hours of sleep per night if you are an adult) simply isn’t enough. You also have to have a restful sleep, and that means that you shouldn’t struggle to fall or stay asleep at night. There are many reasons why it may be harder to have a quality rest.
These include sleep apnea, stress, and having frequent nightmares. People with nightmare disorders, for instance, can face persistent nightmares that recur for over six months. Sometimes, their disorder is severe—meaning they have nightmares every night or most nights.
Nightmares, stress, PTSD, addiction, alcoholism, and many other causes can lead to restless nights.
Even if you do manage to sleep for seven hours, if you wake up frequently and have difficulty falling back asleep, chances are, you won’t feel reinvigorated when you wake up in the morning.
5 Factors that Make All the Difference
The researchers found that five factors differentiated a good night’s sleep from a poor one.
1) sleep duration of seven to eight hours nightly
2) having difficulty falling asleep no more than two nights per week
3) having difficulty staying asleep no more than twice-weekly
4) not relying on medication to fall asleep
5) feeling well rested after waking up at least five days a week.
If people have this winning combination, they found, then they were more likely to live longer.
In particular, men who had these five favorable elements of low-risk sleep lived for almost five years longer, while women lived around 2.4 years longer than those who did not enjoy them.
The scientists stated that even from a young age, people should aim to develop these habits so that by the time they are adults, they are used to prioritizing optimal sleep hygiene.
Don’t Go Overboard
Seven to nine hours is the amount of time usually recommended for sleep per night. Previous studies have shown that too little—or too much—sleep can be harmful. Too much sleep raises the likelihood of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and anxiety. It actually poses a higher risk of stroke, coronary heart disease, and diabetes than sleeping too little.
When it comes to living longer, five key factors come into play. These include sleep quantity, sleep latency, finding it easy to fall and stay asleep, and feeling reinvigorated upon waking. If you have insomnia, nightmares, or other conditions that make it hard to sleep, then see a doctor. There are many treatments available for conditions like sleep apnea, including devices that can be worn during sleep to promote optimal breathing and minimize night waking.