Skip to main content

Key sleep behaviours that could improve life expectancy identified by researchers

Clocking enough hours of sleep each night is known to be important for good health, but new research suggests overall sleep habits throughout the week could be the real key to a longer life.

New research to be presented at the American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session Together with the World Congress of Cardiology in March has revealed five sleep indicators that have shown to improve longevity in some individuals, as reported by Science Daily.

The researchers examined data from more than 170,000 people who participated in the U.S. National Health Interview Survey between 2013 and 2018, which functions to monitor the health of Americans through their responses to various health-related questions.

From there, researchers focused on five different factors of quality sleep to understand how it affects life expectancy.

CTV News has compared the U.S. research below with information from Statistics Canada when available, for an idea of how the research could impact those north of the border.

According to StatCan, a quality sleep is defined as how well someone goes to sleep, and stays asleep, and contributes to both one’s physical and mental health.

The five sleep factors included in the U.S. study were: ideal sleep duration of seven to eight hours a night (which, 65 per cent of Canadians ages 18 to 64 reportedly get each night); difficulty falling asleep no more than two times a week; trouble staying asleep no more than two times a week; not using any sleep medication; and feeling well rested after waking up at least five days a week.

The American participants self-reported on each of these factors, giving each one a number of either zero or one, adding up to a maximum of five points, which would indicate a good sleep.

To cover their bases, the researchers also examined other factors that may have contributed to the risk of dying, such as lower socioeconomic status, smoking and alcohol consumption and other medical conditions.

They found positive outcomes for those who had all five favourable sleep factors. These participants were 30 per cent less likely to die for any reason, 21 per cent less likely to die from heart disease, and 19 per cent less likely to die from cancer.

And they were 40 per cent less likely to die of other causes, which one of the researchers on the study said would likely be due to accidents or other diseases and infections.

In order to better understand the association between sleep behaviour and a longer lifespan, the researchers linked the American National Death Index Records of the survey participants who were followed for a median of 4.3 years.

During this time frame, 8,681 of the participants died - 30 per cent from cardiovascular disease, 24 per cent from cancer, and 46 per cent died from other causes.

Researchers report that, based on this mortality rate data and the ratings of the five sleep habit categories, poor sleep patterns could be attributed to about 8 per cent of deaths.

Additionally, they found that youth who have their sleep habits on track are less likely to die early. 

While the study says further close examination is needed to understand the effect based on sex differences, life expectancy was found to be 4.7 years greater for men and 2.4 years greater for women, for those who claimed to have all five of the quality sleep indicators accounted for in the survey.

More research is also needed to understand how prevalent the increased life expectancy is as people get older, but the researchers hope that discussing sleep as part of health assessments between doctors and patients becomes a habit. Top Stories

Elon Musk restores X account of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones

Elon Musk has restored the X account of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, pointing to a poll on the social media platform formerly known as Twitter that came out in favour of the Infowars host who repeatedly called the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting a hoax.

Stay Connected