We all know that sleep is good for us. Waking up from a deep slumber helps us feel physically and emotionally refreshed.
Unfortunately, in times like these last three years – with the pandemic and other stressful world events – it can be difficult to enjoy the kind of restorative sleep your body needs.
But new research confirms what we’ve long reported: Getting less than optimal sleep is detrimental to your health and can even shorten your life. Today, I’ll share exactly the amount of sleep the latest research says you need to live well into your golden years.
A new study led by University College of London (UCL) researchers studied the health effects of sleep duration on more than 7,000 middle-aged and senior folks from the Whitehall II cohort for 25 years.
At the end, they found the following correlations between sleep and health:
- Getting five hours of sleep or less at age 50 increases your chances of developing a chronic disease by 20 percent, and it leaves you 40 percent more likely to be diagnosed with two or more chronic diseases.
- At age 50, 60, and 70, a five-hour sleep duration was linked to a 30 to 40 percent increased risk of multimorbidity (suffering two or more diseases).
- And five hours or less at age 50 raises your mortality risk by 25 percent over 25 years. Researchers report that the instances of two or more chronic diseases are the cause of premature death in this study.1
Is Sleep the Answer to Chronic illness?
To sum up, the study shows that getting less than five hours of sleep in mid-to-late life could increase your risk of developing at least two chronic diseases (multi-morbidity) – such as heart disease, diabetes, or cancer –and can shorten your lifespan by a whopping 25 percent.
Lead author, Dr. Severine Sabia of the UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health, and Inserm, Université Paris Cité, explained, saying, “Multimorbidity is on the rise in high-income countries and more than half of older adults now have at least two chronic diseases. This is proving to be a major challenge for public health, as multimorbidity is associated with high healthcare service use, hospitalizations and disability.” She went on to say, “As people get older, their sleep habits and sleep structure change. However, it is recommended to sleep for seven to eight hours a night — as sleep durations above or below this have previously been associated with individual chronic diseases.”2
On the other hand, there’s apparently such a thing as getting too much sleep…
The scientists also found that participants who had already been diagnosed with a chronic condition increased their risk of developing another illness by 35 percent if they slept nine hours or more.
The research was published in the journal PLOS Medicine.
So, what can you do?
Start Sleeping Better Today
“To ensure a better night’s sleep, it is important to promote good sleep hygiene, such as making sure the bedroom is quiet, dark and a comfortable temperature before sleeping,” says Dr. Sabia.
“It’s also advised to remove electronic devices and avoid large meals before bedtime. Physical activity and exposure to light during the day might also promote good sleep.”
In addition to these expert tips, you can also try a lemon balm supplement if you’re having trouble sleeping more than five hours. One study of 20 adults experiencing mild to moderate anxiety and sleeping complications shows that taking 600 mg daily for 15 days decreased insomnia by 42 percent.3