Can Sleep Affect Life Expectancy?


Sleep can affect your life expectancy. While most of us feel groggy and tired after a bad night’s sleep, too many in a row, or a lifetime of poor sleep, can affect our bodies. In fact, according to the National Health Service in the UK, “sleep deprivation can also have profound consequences on your physical health.”

This post will outline how sleep can affect life expectancy, including why your body needs sleep, the health risks of too little sleep, the benefits of sleep, and how to improve your sleep quality.

How Does Sleep Affect Life Expectancy?

Sleep can affect your life expectancy over a prolonged amount of time. Those that suffer from a lifetime of poor-quality sleep will be more liable to several health conditions. In a sleep study conducted by the Penn State College of Medicine, there was a direct correlation between the level of sleep and your heart health and mortality risk.

The researchers found that ‘participants with high blood pressure or diabetes who slept less than six had 83% greater risk of heart-related death than those who slept six or more hours a night. Short sleep duration also tripled the risk of death from cancer in participants with a history of heart disease or stroke.”

They determined from this study that the cut-off point was approximately 6 hours - any less than this for a prolonged amount of time led to increased health risks.

What Are The Health Risks of Too Little Sleep?

There are both short-term and long-term risks when it comes to a lack of sleep. The short-term risks include:

  • A lack of alertness
  • A general feeling of sleepiness
  • Quality of life
  • Stress
  • Impaired memory

The long-term risks from lack of sleep include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Stroke
  • Obesity
  • Depression
  • Impairment in immunity

What Are The Benefits of Sleep?

There are many reasons why you should strive for consistent sleep every single night. These include:

  • Sleep boosts immunity. A prolonged lack of sleep can affect your immune system, so prioritize your sleep if you want better overall health.
  • It can be slimming. Sleeping less may cause you to gain weight because of reduced leptin levels, the hormone that makes you feel full. Sleep-deprived people have increased levels of ghrelin, the hunger-stimulating hormone.
  • Your mental wellbeing will increase. A chronic lack of sleep can lead to depression and anxiety in adults.
  • It prevents diabetes. People who sleep less than five hours per night have an increased risk of developing diabetes because of a change in how the body produces glucose.
  • Sleep can improve fertility as exhaustion reduces the number of reproductive hormones in the body.

How Do You Improve Sleep Quality?

You can improve your sleep quality and length of time asleep through several different measures. If you’re struggling to sleep, try these steps:

  • Treat sleep as you would treat taking necessary medicine.
  • Keep your bedtime and wake-up time consistent.
  • Get rid of any blue-light and technical items at least an hour prior to falling asleep.
  • Meditate before bedtime.
  • Avoid checking the clock if you wake up during the night.
  • Make time for downtime. In today’s society, we always seem to be ‘busy,’ but this can harm our health.

Sleep is incredibly beneficial for our health and to our overall good feeling, and, in contrast, a lack of sleep can have a profound impact on our overall health and wellbeing. We always recommend that, above everything, you prioritize enough time for sleep. Nothing is worth sacrificing your overall health and wellness.

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Photo of Noga Sapir - Reflect Author, the author
Written by Noga Sapir - Reflect Author

Noga is the founder and CEO of Reflect Innovation. Noga’s work lies in the intersection of technology and design, and how tactility can create unique experiences in the mental health space.

Reflect Innovation was conceived in 2016 when, while completing her degree in Textile Design, Noga developed Reflect, looking to invent solutions for her own struggle with anxiety.

Noga holds a BSc. in Neuroscience from Tel Aviv University and BDes. in Textile Design from Shenkar College of engineering, design, and art.

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