new research finds that sleeping properly can actually help you add years to your lifespan, as long as it includes five quality sleep measures. While they’re all pretty simple, they may be out of reach for some of us.
The five life-extending sleep qualities are:
- Sleeping seven to eight hours a night.
- Having trouble falling asleep no more than twice a week.
- Having trouble staying asleep no more than twice a week.
- Not using any sleep medication.
- Feeling well-rested when you wake up at least five days a week
The study, which was presented this week at an annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology, analyzed data on more than 172-thousand people with an average age of 50 who filled out questionnaires as part of the National Health Interview. Participants were then followed for an average of 4.3-years afterwards. It finds that life expectancy is 4.7 years longer for men and 2.4 years longer for women who have all five of the sleep habits, compared to those who have none or just one of them.
Those with all five are 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 from other causes. “I think these findings emphasize that just getting enough hours of sleep isn’t sufficient,” explains study co-author Dr. Frank Qian. “You have to have restful sleep and not much trouble falling and staying asleep.”
If you're not able to fall or stay asleep yet the experts say here's the basics of sleep hygiene.
Make sure your sleeping environment is optimal — cooler and darker is better — and block noise or try a sound machine.
Set up a sleep routine. No distractions or blue lights (scrren time) at least an hour before bedtime.
Try relaxing methods like meditation, yoga, tai chi, or warm baths.
Dr Qian says “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.”