A good sleep is the golden chain that ties body and health together

Getting good sleep can play a role in supporting your heart and overall health—and maybe even how long you live.

Good sleep was established on five different factors: ideal sleep duration of seven to eight hours a 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.

According to new research being introduced at the American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session Together with the World Congress of Cardiology. The research found that young people who have more favourable sleep habits are accumulatively less likely to die early. Researchers say that the studies indicate simply getting enough sleep is not good enough and that the quality of sleep has a dominant role to play. Moreover, the statistics suggest that about 8% of deaths from any cause could be allocated to poor sleep patterns.

Frank Qian, an internal medicine resident physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in Boston, America, said: “We saw a clear dose-response relationship, so the more beneficial factors someone has in terms of having higher quality of sleep, they also have a stepwise lowering of all cause and cardiovascular mortality.”

The clinical fellow in medicine at Harvard Medical School and co-author of the study added: “I think these findings emphasise that just getting enough hours of sleep isn’t sufficient.

For their analysis, Qian and the team included data from 172,321 people (average age 50 and 54% women) who were engaged in the National Health Interview Survey between 2013 and 2018. This survey is handled each year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Center for Health Statistics to help gauge the health of the U.S. population and includes questions about sleep and sleep habits. Qian said this is the first study to his comprehension to use a nationally representative community to look at how several sleep habits, and not just sleep time span, might affect life expectancy.

About two-thirds of study candidates self-reported as being White, 14.5% Hispanic, 12.6% Black, and 5.5% Asian. Since researchers were able to link participants to the National Death Index records (through December 31, 2019), they could inspect the relationship between an individual and merged sleep factors and all-cause and cause-specific mortality. Candidates were accompanied for a median of 4.3 years during which time 8,681 individuals died. Of these deaths, 2,610 deaths (30%) were from cardiovascular disease, 2,052 (24%) were from cancer and 4,019 (46%) were due to other causes.

For the study, researchers managed other factors that may have increased the risk of dying, involving lower socioeconomic status, smoking and alcohol consumption, and other medical states. Compared to individuals who had zero to one favourable sleep factor, those who had all five were 30% less likely to die for any reason, 21% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease, 19% less likely to die from cancer, and 40% less likely to die of causes other than cardiovascular or cancer. Qian said these other deaths are likely due to accidents, infections or neurodegenerative diseases, such as dementia and Parkinson’s disease, but more studies are needed.

“If people have all these ideal sleep behaviours, 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 current analysis, researchers estimated gains in life expectancy starting at age 30, but they say the model can be used to forecast gains at older ages, too.

Good sleep hygiene

Would your score be less than five? Don’t fret — the good news is that you can easily teach your brain to sleep healthier by following what is called good “sleep hygiene.” Its main key is to go to bed at the same time on most nights and get up at the same time most mornings — even on weekends and holidays.

Make sure your sleeping habitat is ideal such as cooler and darker is better, and block noise or try a sound machine.

Avoid booze before bed. It may appear like you’re falling asleep more easily, but when the liver ends metabolizing the alcohol at 3 a.m., the body will wake up, experts say.

Set up a sleep routine, with no blue lights or interruptions at least an hour before bedtime. Try meditation, yoga, tai chi, warm baths — everything that relaxes you.

Parents and caretakers can grasp these habits and train them in their children, thus providing them with a finer shot at a longer life, Qian said.

Qian said: “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.

“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 speaking about and assessing sleep more often.”

(Co-written with Maria Babu Thottiyil)