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Wait, can good quality sleep actually add years to your life?

Zzzz’s aren’t just important for your mind and body, they could increase your life expectancy as well, according to a new study.

In a world as chaotic and fast-moving as the one we live in, we all know the wonders a good night’s sleep can do. Not only do we feel rested and alert, researchers from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston have suggested that, far from just being enjoyable, quality sleep may even add years to people’s lives.

Yes, you read that right. Nodding off isn’t just good for you – young people who had better sleep habits were less likely to die early, according to the study.

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The fascinating researchsuggests that men who regularly sleep well could live almost five years longer than those who do not, while women could benefit by two years, and they could also enjoy better health during their lives. However, the findings indicated that the quantity of sleep was not in itself enough to achieve the possible health benefits – quality of sleep is also important.

So what does “good quality sleep” actually look like? The scientists based it on five different factors: ideal sleep duration of seven to eight hours a night; difficulty falling asleep no more than two times a week; trouble staying asleep no more than two times a week; not using any sleep medication; and feeling well rested after waking up at least five days a week.

Among those who reported having all five quality sleep measures, life expectancy was 4.7 years greater for men and 2.4 years greater for women, compared with those who had none or only one of the factors. 

The quantity of sleep was not in itself enough to achieve the possible health benefits – quality of sleep is also important

“We saw a clear dose-response relationship, so the more beneficial factors someone has in terms of having higher quality of sleep, they also have a stepwise lowering of all cause and cardiovascular mortality,” said Dr Frank Qian, who co-authored the study, of the research findings.

“Even from a young age, if people can develop these good sleep habits of getting enough sleep, making sure they are sleeping without too many distractions and have good sleep hygiene overall, it can greatly benefit their overall long-term health.”

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However, as always it’s important to take these findings with a pinch of salt, as Qian and his fellow researchers admitted that more study is needed to determine why men had double the increase in life expectancy compared with women who had the same quality sleep. But for the meantime, doze away.

Images: Getty

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