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Thursday, April 11, 2024

Want to lower your risk of dying? Getting a good night's sleep is more urgent than ever

We may need to redefine what a good night’s sleep really means.

Adults who maintain an optimal sleep schedule with regular bedtime and wake times have significantly lower mortality compared to those with an irregular and less sufficient sleep pattern, according to a recent study.

“Results suggest [the] benefits of expanding the public conversation on getting ‘a good night’s sleep’ and broadening this goal to getting many good nights of sleep, in a row, on weekdays and weekends,” lead researcher Joon Chung said in a press release.


Regular sleepers outlived irregular sleepers

The researchers used data from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis Sleep Study to evaluate over 1,750 participants for a median follow-up of seven years.

They analyzed the sleep patterns of the participants, specifically the consistency and duration of sleep, using wrist actigraphy that the participants wore for seven days.

A wrist actigraphy is worn like a watch to evaluate sleep patterns by measuring activity through light and movement, according to Stanford Medicine.

Of the group of over 1,750 people, some 1,015 adults were categorized as “regular-optimal” sleepers, while 744 were identified as “irregular-insufficient” sleepers, according to Medscape, which reviewed the study. 

In the follow-up period, 176 people passed away.

Woman sleeping

Regular sleepers tended to outlive irregular sleepers, regardless of a major sleep disorder, a new study has reported. (iStock)

Participants with regular and healthy sleep schedules had an approximately 40% lower risk of dying from any cause compared to those with irregular and insufficient sleep patterns, regardless of socio-demographics, lifestyle, health status and major sleep disorders.

Poor sleep hygiene leads to higher risk of death

Dr. Sidhu pointed to a prior nursing study that followed 78,500 women over approximately 10 years that supports the research.

The Nurses’ Health Study found that those who worked at least three nights per month, in addition to their day and evenings shifts, found a higher risk of breast cancer — especially among women who worked 30 years or more on the night shifts.

Previous research also revealed higher mortality with short sleep durations, prescription sleeping pill use and sleeping too much (> 8.5 hours), Sidhu added in an email.

Sleep for 7-8 hours on a consistent basis

Getting “7-8 hours of sleep of regular consistency (to allow normal circadian rhythm) reduces risk from a number of causes of death (accidents, cardiovascular, cancer, etc.),” Dr. Sidhu noted in an email.

“If sleep were an eight-hour pill, it would be beneficial to take the full dose at regular times, consistently.”

“Healthy sleep” is not only about getting sufficient quality sleep on a consistent basis, but also having regular bedtimes and wake times, per the study.

young woman asleep

It’s best to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time each morning — including on weekends, says the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. (iStock)

“If sleep were an eight-hour pill, it would be beneficial to take the full dose at regular times, consistently,” Chung added in a release.

Smart sleep tips

One simple goal is to be consistent. 

And if you try going to sleep but can’t fall asleep within 20 minutes, it’s best to get out of bed.

Do a quiet activity without a lot of light exposure until you are tired. But avoid any electronic devices, remembering to turn them off 30 minutes before bedtime.


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