Our bodies get up to a lot while we sleep, even if it might seem like nothing much is going on. Your cells, metabolism, and hormones all use your shut-eye to refresh and prepare for the next day. With that in mind, it's little surprise that good sleep and good health are so closely linked.
However, for many of us, sleep remains low-priority. From 'I'll sleep when I'm dead' to 'I'll catch up at the weekend', getting high-quality and consistent sleep is rarely top of the to-do list. But it turns out, not going to bed might be doing more than just ruining your morning: it might be shortening your lifespan.
A recent survey has found a strong link between an increased lifespan and consistent high-quality sleep. Researchers inspected data provided by 172,321 participants to the National Health Interview Survey between 2013 and 2018, then compared the information to the National Death Index up until December 2019.
Based on the data, the participants who reported consistently good sleep were likely to live longer than those who struggled to achieve a refreshing seven to eight hours (controlled for other factors that may effect lifespan). Researchers predict good sleep could increase lifespan by 4.7 years in men and 2.4 years in women.
So, better sleep might improve your longevity. But what does 'better sleep' mean? The researchers identified five low-risk sleep factors to the American College of Cardiology:
- Sleep seven to eight hours every night
- Have trouble falling asleep no more than two times a week
- Have trouble staying asleep no more than two times a week
- Not using sleep medication
- Feel well-rested when waking at least five days a week
Participants who demonstrated all five low-risk sleep factors had a greater life expectancy than participants who displayed none or zero of the factors.
It is worth noting that the survey used self-reported data, which can influence the results – what you consider well-rested when waking might differ to someone else’s definition. However, the general trend pointed to a strong link between sleep and increased life expectancy.
How to get good sleep
Not meeting those sleep goals? First things first: don't panic. Panicking that you're not getting enough sleep is a surefire way to ensure you won't get any sleep, and while this study indicated a link between sleep and life expectancy, more research is needed to confirm just how big a role your slumber plays in your lifespan.
However, it's always the right time to build good sleep habits. If you want to make good sleep your priority, try these three tips:
1. Start building a bedtime routine
Few of us can go straight from 'awake' to 'asleep', we need a bedtime routine to help us wind-down and relax. A good bedtime routine allows you to slowly switch off, so when you get into bed both your body and brain are ready to sleep. By making your bedtime routine into a nightly ritual, you can introduce that essential consistency into your sleep habits.
2. Practice the 10-3-2-1-0 sleep method
Sleep should be a priority for your health and wellbeing, not just your lifespan, so it’s worth adjusting your routine with the aim of getting better rest. The 10-3-2-1-0 method is great for this. In five simple steps, you can build a routine that preps your entire day for sleeping well. We have a full guide to the 10-3-2-1-0 sleep method, to help you out.
3. Start reading before bed
Okay, those tips above can be a little intense, especially if you're not sure where to get started. For a low-key change that can return big results, try swapping your doomscrolling for reading before bed. A few minutes of reading in bed can help prepare your mind and body for rest, helping you drop off and stay asleep.
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Ruth is TechRadar’s Sleep Writer. She’s here to help you find the perfect sleep setup for your budget and personal preferences. As well as keeping a keen eye on everything that’s going on in the world of mattresses, she regularly speaks to experts to help you learn how to improve your sleep habits, whether that’s by debunking sleep myths or explaining the science behind it all. Prior to joining the TechRadar team, she wrote features and product guides for new parents hoping to get a decent night's sleep, as well as writing for a variety of online spaces.