Why is the amount of sleep we should get vs. what we actually get each night two different things? Is it really that hard to make sure we get to bed at a reasonable hour in order to feel our best the next day? Or is it occasionally worth it to sacrifice sleep just to add a couple extra hours to our day?
These are the types of questions that haunt us every time we reach over to turn off the alarm clock each morning. Yet, few of us ever stop to consider that sleeping less than eight hours a night might actually be cutting into our overall life expectancy. Nevertheless, new scientific evidence suggests that this may indeed be the case.
How Does Sleep Loss Affect Life Expectancy?
One recent study followed over 20,000 sets of twins for 22 years. Twins make excellent research subjects, since similar genetics and upbringing environments allow the impacts of behavioral differences to be more accurately gauged. Among this study’s many findings, subjects who slept sleeping less than an average seven hours per night had a 17 percent to 24 percent increased a risk of death over those who regularly got eight hours. Also, a 33 percent boost in mortality risk as a result of the use of sleep medications.
A separate European metastudy (meaning a study that involves the analysis of cumulative data from several separate studies) found “unequivocal evidence” that people who routinely get less than six hours of sleep per night were 12 percent more likely to die earlier than those who got the recommended six to eight hours of sleep.
For adults, consistently sleeping six to eight hours per night has been found to be the optimal range for good health, while small children and adolescents will need considerably more than that.
Both of these studies concluded that it wasn’t sleep loss itself that led to the increased risk of death, but rather medical conditions which came as a result of chronic sleep loss. Accordingly to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, the list of diseases that can be initiated by long-term sleep loss include obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension. Furthermore, since sleep loss weakens the immune system, there are theoretically any number of serious illnesses that can be initiated from routine sleep loss.
Can Sleeping Too Much Impact Your Lifespan?
Perhaps equally as interesting, both studies referenced above also showed a connection between too much sleep and a shortened lifespan. In the European metastudy, it was found that sleeping more than nine hours per night was associated with early death. In this particular case, however, it’s not believed that sleeping too much has a negative impact on the body, but rather that people who already battle chronic illnesses are more likely to spend more time at home and in bed than those who are healthy and able to work long hours.
As you’re probably already well aware, one of the biggest challenges to getting adequate sleep is being able to fall asleep quickly (and stay that way) once you crawl into bed at night. In addition to making sure your bedroom is a cool room temperature, dark, and free from outside noise, your mattress is a crucial piece of the puzzle that all too often goes ignored.
Improve Your Sleep Quality Today
Regardless of whether you prefer an innerspring, pocketed coil, memory foam, latex, or hybrid mattress type, the best quality mattresses will be constructed of high-quality materials deliver the exact same support and comfort after many years of use as they did on night one. If you haven’t yet had the opportunity to discover what makes Sherwood Bedding products superior to any other mattress on the market, we invite you to visit a retailer near you.