Getting good sleep increases life span

March 1, 2023 People's Journal 233 views

GETTING good sleep can play a role in supporting your heart and overall health—and maybe even how long you live—according to new research presented at the American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session Together With the World Congress of Cardiology.

The study found that young people who have more beneficial sleep habits are incrementally less likely to die early. Moreover, the data suggest that about eight percent of deaths from any cause could be attributed to poor sleep patterns.

For the study, Dr. Frank Qian, a clinical fellow in medicine at Harvard Medical School, and his team surveyed 172,321 people (average age 50 and 54% women) who participated in the National Health Interview Survey between 2013 and 2018. This survey is fielded each year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Center for Health Statistics to help gauge the health and includes questions about sleep and sleep habits of participants.

About two-thirds of study participants self-reported as being White, 14.5 percent

Hispanic; 12.6 percent Black; and 5.5 percent Asian.

Qian said this is the first study to his knowledge to use a nationally representative population to look at how several sleep behaviors, and not just sleep duration, might influence life expectancy.

Researchers assessed different factors of quality sleep using a low-risk sleep score they created based on answers collected as part of the survey. Factors included: 1) ideal sleep duration of seven to eight hours a night; 2) difficulty falling asleep no more than two times a week; 3) trouble staying asleep no more than two times a week; 4) not using any sleep medication; and 5) feeling well rested after waking up at least five days a week. Each factor was assigned zero or one point for each, for a maximum of five points, which indicated the highest quality sleep.

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

For the analysis, researchers controlled for other factors that may have heightened the risk of dying, including lower socioeconomic status, smoking and alcohol consumption and other medical conditions.

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 compared with those who had none or only one of the five favorable elements of low-risk sleep. More research is needed to determine why men with all five low-risk sleep factors had double the increase in life expectancy compared with women who had the same quality sleep.

“It’s important for younger people to understand that a lot of health behaviors are cumulative over time. 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,” Qian added,

These 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.

Qian will present the study, “Low-risk Sleep Patterns, Mortality, and Life Expectancy at Age 30 Years: A Prospective Study of 172,321 U.S. Adults,” on March 6 at the Prevention and Health Promotion Moderated Poster Theater 10, Hall F. ACC.23/WCC will take place from March 4-6 in New Orleans, bringing together cardiologists and cardiovascular specialists from around the world to share the newest discoveries in treatment and prevention. ([email protected]/American College of Cardiology)