Cultivating good sleep habits can increase your lifespan by up to 5 years, according to a new study by American College of Cardiology. To find out, the scientists followed volunteers and took notes on their sleep quality and health, taking care to rule out other risk factors for reduced life expectancy, such as alcoholism.
For men, life expectancy increased by almost 5 years, in fact, while women saw a slightly smaller increase of almost 2.5 years. What habits improve sleep to the point of positively affecting health? The trick is to target sleep disturbances, removing the factors that diminish the restful nature of the activity. Above all, you need consistency.
5 habits for a long life
The first step is simple: get 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Sleep deficit is very common, with 1 in 3 people not getting enough sleep, according to studies from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, time alone is not enough, as rest must be uninterrupted and repairs frequent. This is characterized by sleep where you don’t wake up in the night and you don’t have problems falling asleep more than twice a week.
Also, you should feel well rested at least 5 times a week when you wake up. The last step is to not have to use drugs to fall asleep. We know it’s not easy to root out all sleep issues, especially when regularity is key, but it’s a good idea to set goals and focus on sleep hygiene.
Sleep irregularities, including sleep duration and quality, are associated with risk of cardiovascular disease and metabolic problems. In the American study, more than 172,000 people were analyzed, answering questionnaires on their sleep between the years 2013 and 2018, as part of the National Health Survey, carried out each year by the National Center for Health Statistics in the country. .
The 5 habits cited – getting 7-8 hours of sleep, falling asleep easily, maintaining consistent sleep, being drug-free, and waking up well-rested – were numbered, scoring participants based on the number of habits cultivated. Over the next 4 years, scores were compared to National Death Index records, noting the relationship between sleep and early death.
Elements that could influence early death, such as previous medical problems, low socioeconomic status and alcohol consumption were taken into account, seeking to eliminate errors in the research. People with all 5 up-to-date habits were 30% less likely to die for any reason than those with only one habit or no habit present in the routine. In terms of death from cardiovascular disease, the risk was 21% lower, while for cancer it was 19% and for other causes it was 40% lower.
For men, the risk of death with the 5 current habits decreased by 4.7 times, while for women it was 2.4 times. Scientists don’t know the origin of this difference, but suspect that the difficulty in assessing the female sex implicated in obstructive sleep apnea may be part of the problem.
The disease, which interrupts breathing every few minutes and generates risks of arterial and cardiovascular diseases, does not present classic symptoms in men while it appears in women, generating possible underdiagnoses. Further studies should seek to answer this question.
How to improve sleep hygiene?
In case you want to cultivate sleep hygiene to measure the 5 habits, we have some tips. Start by going to bed at the same time almost every day, including weekends and holidays, and waking up at the same time too, without “sleep procrastination”. Also try to sleep in dark, cool places with as little noise as possible. It’s best to avoid drinking before bed because the liver doesn’t finish metabolizing alcohol until 3 a.m., waking up the body.
It is good to avoid blue lights, emitted by electronic devices, as well as other distractions at least 1 hour before going to bed. Practices like meditation, yoga, and hot baths — any relaxing activity, really — are recommended. The important thing is to start cultivating these habits as early as possible, ensuring an increase in life expectancy as soon as possible.
Source: American College of Cardiology, CDC