Five low-risk, sleep-related factors have been associated with a lower risk of premature mortality and living longer in US adults. Researchers claim that increased adoption of these factors may lead to a significantly longer life expectancy.
In 2022, the American Heart Association (AHA) added sleep duration as an essential component for ideal heart and brain health. Healthy sleep is now part of Life’s Essential 8™ cardiovascular health score, which includes the eight elements considered essential for cardiovascular health. Dr Haibin Li and colleagues analyzed the association of low-risk sleep patterns with mortality and life expectancy, using a nationally representative sample of 172,321 US adults who participated in the National Health Interview Survey between 2013 and 2018. They had a mean age of 47 and around 50% were women. Results were presented at the American College of Cardiology 2023 Annual Scientific Sessions.
By linking participants to the National Death Index records (through 31 December 2019), the association between sleep factors and all-cause and cause-specific mortality could be explored. The authors devised a low-risk sleep score using five sleep-related factors. Low-risk groups were defined as follows:
- sleep duration of 7–8 hours a day
- difficulty falling asleep no more than twice a week
- trouble staying asleep no more than twice a week
- no sleep medication use
- waking feeling rested at least 5 days a week
Life expectancy at age 30 by sleep score was estimated using a flexible parametric Royston-Parmar proportional-hazards model.
During a median follow-up of 4.3 years, 8,681 participants died, including 2,610 from cardiovascular disease (CVD) and 2,052 from cancer. Young people who have more beneficial sleep habits were incrementally less likely to die early. The authors estimated that 7.9% (5.5% to 10.4%) of the population-attributable risk from all-cause mortality in this cohort was due to suboptimal sleep patterns. Among individuals who reported all five low-risk sleep factors, life expectancy at 30 was 4.7 years greater for men (52.2 vs 47.5 years) and 2.4 years greater for women (56.7 vs 54.3 years) compared with people with one or fewer of these factors.
A limitation of the study is that sleep habits were self-reported. Also, information is lacking about the types of sleep aid or medicine used or the frequency and duration of use.
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