Poor sleep alters 'sleep age' and shortens life expectancy by nearly 9 years, Stanford study shows

Poor sleep alters ‘sleep age’ and shortens life expectancy by nearly 9 years, Stanford study shows

Nocturnal interruptions are hallmarks of a bad night’s sleep. The long-term impact, however, goes far beyond tiredness the next day. According to a new study conducted by researchers at Stanford University in the United States and the Danish Center for Sleep Medicine, sleep fragmentation can increase the risk of death by 29%, and provide a reduction in the life expectancy of children. almost nine years.

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The work, published in the scientific journal npj Digital Medicine, by the Nature group, evaluated the effects of the so-called ‘sleep age’ incompatible with the individual’s real age. To do this, the scientists first analyzed the sleep of different age groups – based on factors such as movement, nocturnal interruptions, breathing and heart rate –, assigning the average profile of a night in each of them. As a result, they monitored the sleep of more than 10,000 participants aged between 20 and 90 and assigned each the age with which the sleep profile was most compatible.

Someone aged 45, for example, but whose ‘sleep age’ was 55, was sleeping poorly, according to the experts’ assessment. On the other hand, if this person were assigned an age of 35 years, the quality of sleep would be above average. The researchers then studied which was the most influential factor for a ‘sleep age’ incompatible with the biological one, and how this difference impacted health.

“Our main finding was that sleep fragmentation, when people wake up multiple times during the night for less than a minute without remembering, was the strongest predictor of mortality. waking up, which happens during sleep disorders such as insomnia,” said lead author and Stanford researcher Emmanuel Mignot in an interview with the university’s portal.

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That’s because scientists have found that this poor-quality night alters ‘sleep age’, and every 10-year increase in that index, compared to actual age, raised the risk of death from all causes by 29%. Furthermore, each decade plus or minus in ‘sleep age’ changed life expectancy by 8.7 years.

— We found that people with older sleep ages compared to their actual age have an increased risk of mortality, based on the sleep of patients who died later. From other studies, we know that poor sleep is found in a variety of (health) conditions, such as sleep apnea, neurodegeneration, obesity and chronic pain,” explains Mignot.

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Other studies had already pointed out that poor quality sleep increases the risk for dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Furthermore, the new work showed that a 10-year higher ‘sleep age’ increased the risk of cardiovascular disease by 40%. Despite the alarming results, Mignot explains that there is a way to reverse the scenario, and offers tips to improve bedtime.

— Going to bed and waking up at regular times is key to improving your sleep. This doesn’t mean sleeping too much, but making sure you are fully rested by regularity. It’s a different amount for everyone and often the window varies a little. Get solid light exposure—preferably outside light—during the day, keep the sleep environment dark at night, exercise regularly but not too close to bedtime, not drink alcohol and caffeine close to bedtime, and avoiding heavy meals at night contributes to healthy sleep. And, of course, make sure any sleep disorders are treated.

Now, the researchers are working with other scientists at Harvard University to collect data from 250,000 sleep studies. The idea is to expand the assessment of the health impacts of having a different ‘sleep age’.

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