Scientists Point Out Five Key Sleeping Habits That May Truly ‘Add Years’ To Your Life


Regardless of your age, whether young or old, there are always things you can do to improve your overall health. In fact, you can even add years to your life by cultivating a variety of good sleeping habits. At least this is according to new research, which was presented at the American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session in March.

As for the study, it found that young people that follow more beneficial sleep habits are actually less likely to die early. In addition, the data also suggests that ‘about 8% of deaths from any cause could be attributed to poor sleep patterns.’

When it comes to the study, what they found when it comes to life expectancy, what they saw was 4.7 years greater for men and 2.4 years greater for women who reported to complying with these five quality sleep measures as compared to those who either had none, or just one, of these five elements of “low-risk sleep.”

Study co-author, Frank Qian, MD, from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, said, “If people have all these ideal sleep behaviors, they are more likely to live longer.”

The five key habits are as follows:

  • seven or eight hours of sleep per night
  • difficulty falling asleep no more than twice a week
  • trouble staying asleep no more than twice a week
  • not using any sleep medication
  • feeling well rested when waking up at least five days a week.

Dr. Qian, who is also a clinical fellow in medicine at Harvard Medical School, explained,

“I think these findings emphasize that just getting enough hours of sleep isn’t sufficient. You really have to have restful sleep and not have much trouble falling and staying asleep.”

However, one limitation to the study was that there was no information given about the types of sleep aids or medications used, or how often or long the participants used these types of drugs.

The researchers also looked at the numbers from over 172,300 American adults, whose average age was 50, who participated in the annual health survey done between the years 2013 and 2018.

The participants were asked about their sleep habits, and also had follow up questions for an average of 4.3 years, during which over 8,600 participants died. Of those deaths, at least 30 percent of the deaths were due to cardiovascular disease, 24 percent of the deaths were from cancer, and another 46 percent were because of other causes. Moreover, previous studies have also shown that getting too little sleep can negatively affect the heart.

Using a low-risk sleep score they created based on the answers they received from the survey, the researchers assessed the five different factors for quality sleep. Each factor was given either zero or one point for each, with a maximum of five points, which indicated the highest quality of sleep.

Dr. Qian explained that this is the first study, that he knows of at least, where they used a nationally representative population to look at a variety of sleep behaviors – not just sleep duration or length – may actually influence human life expectancy. What they found was ‘about two-thirds of the study participants self-reported as being White, 14.5% Hispanic, 12.6% Black and 5.5% Asian.’

What the research team discovered is that when compared to those people who had zero to one favorable sleep factors, those participants that 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.’

He also says that more research is required to truly determine why mean with all five low-risk sleep factors ‘had double the increase in life expectancy’ as compared to the women who had the same quality sleep.

“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,” said Dr. Quin.

He also said that with their present analysis, the team also estimated better gains in life expectancy starting at age 30, however the model can be used to also predict gains in those that are older in age as well.

Dr. Quin shared in a press release before he presented his findings in the conference, “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.”

With their study results, the researchers hope that both patients and physicians will begin to talk about sleep when they have doctor visits as part of their overall health assessments, as well as to come up with better disease management strategies.