New York – Getting good sleep can play a role in supporting your heart and overall health , according to new research presented at the American College of Cardiology.
The study found young people who have more beneficial sleep habits are incrementally less likely to die early. The data suggest about eight percent of deaths from any cause could be attributed to poor sleep patterns.
Researchers saw more beneficial factors in those who have higher quality of sleep, such as lowering cardiovascular mortality.
They studied data from 172,321 people who participated in the national health interview survey between 2013 and 2018.
It is the first study to use a nationally representative population to look at how several sleep behaviours, and not just sleep duration, might influence life expectancy.
For the analysis, the researchers looked at other factors that may have heightened the risk of dying, including lower socio-economic status, smoking and alcohol consumption and other medical conditions.
Compared to individuals who had zero to one favourable sleep factors, those who had all five were 30 percent less likely to die for any reason, 21 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease, 19 percent less likely to die from cancer, and 40 percent less likely to die of causes other than heart disease or cancer.
Among men and women who reported having all five quality sleep measures (a score of five), life expectancy was 4.7 years greater for men and 2.4 years greater for women.
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, the researchers say.
They estimated gains in life expectancy starting at age 30, but the model can be used to predict gains at older ages too. It’s important for younger people to understand that a lot of health behaviours are cumulative over time.
It’s never too late to exercise or stop smoking and it’s never too early.
Sleep habits can be easily asked about during clinical encounters and the researchers hope patients and clinicians will start talking about sleep as part of their overall health assessment and disease management planning.
One limitation of the study is that sleep habits were self-reported and not objectively measured or verified. In addition, no information was available about the types of sleep aid or medicine used or how often or long participants used them.
Future research is needed to understand how these gains in life expectancy might continue as people age, as well as further explore the sex differences that were observed.