What’s the Connection Between Quality Sleep and Longevity?

7 min read

Jan 22, 2024 - by Jennifer maples
LONGEVITY, SKIN CARE

What’s the Connection Between Quality Sleep and Longevity?

7 min read

Jan 22, 2024 - by Jennifer maples
LONGEVITY, SKIN CARE

*This post is adapted from an original post by Aastha Jain Simes, found hereto learn more about livelongerworld with permission from the author

*This post is adapted from an original post by Aastha Jain Simes, found hereto learn more about livelongerworld with permission from the author
Let’s be honest. For most of us, the last time we had a truly refreshing night’s sleep might feel like a dream. But there’s good news. It’s not too late to set your sleep cycle up for success. More good news? The right kind of sleep can help add years to your life by staving off chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease, dementia, and diabetes. Today’s post is all about exploring the power of sleep for longevity and overall well-being. You’ll learn how to fine-tune your circadian rhythm and create the ideal sleeping environment, plus discover the practical and scientifically proven lifestyle habits you can start implementing today for a better night’s sleep tonight. Let’s dive straight into the science.
Let’s be honest. For most of us, the last time we had a truly refreshing night’s sleep might feel like a dream. But there’s good news. It’s not too late to set your sleep cycle up for success. More good news? The right kind of sleep can help add years to your life by staving off chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease, dementia, and diabetes. Today’s post is all about exploring the power of sleep for longevity and overall well-being. You’ll learn how to fine-tune your circadian rhythm and create the ideal sleeping environment, plus discover the practical and scientifically proven lifestyle habits you can start implementing today for a better night’s sleep tonight. Let’s dive straight into the science.
01

The Science of Sleep and Longevity

Researchers have examined the physiological and psychological aspects of sleep for over a century with studies consistently showing how sleep plays a critical role in our health. Here’s why. When you sleep well, the body undergoes essential repair processes, everything from consolidating memories and flushing out toxins to repairing damaged cells and DNA – all crucial for delaying the onset of age-related diseases. [01] Key research finds that by consistently getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night, you can lower your chances of developing diseases that can significantly shorten your lifespan. [02] What’s more, sleep has been linked to improved immune function, which not only helps fend off immediate threats like colds and viruses, but also reduces the risk of more serious health issues down the road. [03]
01

The Science of Sleep and Longevity

Researchers have examined the physiological and psychological aspects of sleep for over a century with studies consistently showing how sleep plays a critical role in our health. Here’s why. When you sleep well, the body undergoes essential repair processes, everything from consolidating memories and flushing out toxins to repairing damaged cells and DNA – all crucial for delaying the onset of age-related diseases. [01] Key research finds that by consistently getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night, you can lower your chances of developing diseases that can significantly shorten your lifespan. [02] What’s more, sleep has been linked to improved immune function, which not only helps fend off immediate threats like colds and viruses, but also reduces the risk of more serious health issues down the road. [03]
02

Sleep Stages and Their Impact on Health

Sleep is broadly divided into 2 main categories, which the body cycles through roughly 4 to 6 times each night: Non-Rapid Eye Movement (or NREM, which has 3 distinct stages) and Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. Each stage greatly contributes to your short-term and long-term health. [04]

NREM Sleep: The Foundation of Physical Restoration

  • Stage 1: The initial phase of light rest
  • Stage 2: A light sleep stage where the heart rate slows and body temperature drops
  • Stage 3: In this deep sleep stage, also known as delta sleep, the body begins its physical repairs
02

Sleep Stages and Their Impact on Health

Sleep is broadly divided into 2 main categories, which the body cycles through roughly 4 to 6 times each night: Non-Rapid Eye Movement (or NREM, which has 3 distinct stages) and Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. Each stage greatly contributes to your short-term and long-term health. [04]

NREM Sleep: The Foundation of Physical Restoration

  • Stage 1: The initial phase of light rest
  • Stage 2: A light sleep stage where the heart rate slows and body temperature drops
  • Stage 3: In this deep sleep stage, also known as delta sleep, the body begins its physical repairs

REM Sleep: The Mental Rejuvenator

Typically about 90 minutes after falling asleep, REM sleep kicks in. This is the stage where the brain processes emotions and consolidates memories. This is also when dreams are the most vivid.

REM Sleep: The Mental Rejuvenator

Typically about 90 minutes after falling asleep, REM sleep kicks in. This is the stage where the brain processes emotions and consolidates memories. This is also when dreams are the most vivid.
03

Circadian Rhythm and Its Role in Healthy Sleep

What’s a circadian rhythm? It’s essentially your internal clock, running in the background 24/7 to help regulate the ebb-and-flow of your sleep-wake cycle. This rhythm is aligned with environmental cues (especially light) and is incredibly influential in your quality of sleep. [05] When your circadian rhythm is in sync, it prompts your body to release the sleep hormone, melatonin at the right time, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. But when it’s disrupted – like from jet lag, shift work, or even being post-menopausal [06, 07] – it can lead to a poor night’s sleep and various sleep disorders.

How to Dial In Your Circadian Rhythm:

  • Early light exposure. Getting outside in the morning can help improve sleep later that night. Sunlight early in the day tells your circadian rhythm that it’s the appropriate time to be awake, which sets the tone for the rest of the day. [08]
  • Consistent sleep schedule. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, including weekends and vacations, reinforces a healthy sleep-wake cycle. [09]
  • Mind your meal times. Eating at regular times throughout the day helps regulate your body’s internal clock. Avoid heavy meals close to bedtime as they demand a lot of energy for digestion, diverting your body’s focus from preparing for sleep. Late-night snacking (especially quick-burning carbohydrates) can cause a spike in blood sugar levels followed by a rapid drop, which can cause you to wake up. [10]
  • Limit evening stimulants and depressants. Caffeine and alcohol are known sleep disruptors. For an optimal night’s rest, consume caffeine no later than 2 pm. Recent studies have also highlighted the overall detrimental effects of alcohol (not just on sleep), so consider avoiding it, especially in the hours leading up to bedtime. [11, 12]
  • Establish a wind-down routine. Creating a relaxing, pre-sleep routine signals to your body and brain that it’s time to unwind. This could include activities like reading, taking a warm bath, gentle stretching, or meditation. And turn those screens off. Studies suggest that looking at a phone, computer, and TV up to an hour before bed can impact sleep quality as the blue light emitted from screens can interfere with melatonin production. [13]
03

Circadian Rhythm and Its Role in Healthy Sleep

What’s a circadian rhythm? It’s essentially your internal clock, running in the background 24/7 to help regulate the ebb-and-flow of your sleep-wake cycle. This rhythm is aligned with environmental cues (especially light) and is incredibly influential in your quality of sleep. [05] When your circadian rhythm is in sync, it prompts your body to release the sleep hormone, melatonin at the right time, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. But when it’s disrupted – like from jet lag, shift work, or even being post-menopausal [06, 07] – it can lead to a poor night’s sleep and various sleep disorders.

How to Dial In Your Circadian Rhythm:

  • Early light exposure. Getting outside in the morning can help improve sleep later that night. Sunlight early in the day tells your circadian rhythm that it’s the appropriate time to be awake, which sets the tone for the rest of the day. [08]
  • Consistent sleep schedule. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, including weekends and vacations, reinforces a healthy sleep-wake cycle. [09]
  • Mind your meal times. Eating at regular times throughout the day helps regulate your body’s internal clock. Avoid heavy meals close to bedtime as they demand a lot of energy for digestion, diverting your body’s focus from preparing for sleep. Late-night snacking (especially quick-burning carbohydrates) can cause a spike in blood sugar levels followed by a rapid drop, which can cause you to wake up. [10]
  • Limit evening stimulants and depressants. Caffeine and alcohol are known sleep disruptors. For an optimal night’s rest, consume caffeine no later than 2 pm. Recent studies have also highlighted the overall detrimental effects of alcohol (not just on sleep), so consider avoiding it, especially in the hours leading up to bedtime. [11, 12]
  • Establish a wind-down routine. Creating a relaxing, pre-sleep routine signals to your body and brain that it’s time to unwind. This could include activities like reading, taking a warm bath, gentle stretching, or meditation. And turn those screens off. Studies suggest that looking at a phone, computer, and TV up to an hour before bed can impact sleep quality as the blue light emitted from screens can interfere with melatonin production. [13]
04

Creating an Optimal Sleep Environment

Setting up the right sleep environment goes beyond having a comfortable bed. It's about creating a space that cues your body for rest, addressing factors like temperature, noise, and lighting. Here are some key tips to transform your bedroom into a sanctuary for quality sleep. [14]
  • Maintain a cool temperature. Keep your bedroom cool, ideally between 60 to 67˚ F (15 ˚ to 19˚ C) to help lower your body temperature, a natural part of the sleep onset process.
  • Dim the lights. This can help encourage the production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for sleep regulation. Consider using blackout curtains or a sleep mask, especially if you’re sensitive to light.
  • Create a quieter space. Total quiet may not be possible if you’re in an urban area. That's where white or brown noise comes in. Steady, ambient sounds can enhance sleep quality by reducing the difference between background noise and 'peak' sounds, like car alarms or traffic.
  • Reduce blue light exposure. We touched on it earlier, but this is a big deal when it comes to sleep. The blue light emitted by screens can trick your brain into thinking it’s daytime, disrupting the natural production of melatonin.
04

Creating an Optimal Sleep Environment

Setting up the right sleep environment goes beyond having a comfortable bed. It's about creating a space that cues your body for rest, addressing factors like temperature, noise, and lighting. Here are some key tips to transform your bedroom into a sanctuary for quality sleep. [14]
  • Maintain a cool temperature. Keep your bedroom cool, ideally between 60 to 67˚ F (15 ˚ to 19˚ C) to help lower your body temperature, a natural part of the sleep onset process.
  • Dim the lights. This can help encourage the production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for sleep regulation. Consider using blackout curtains or a sleep mask, especially if you’re sensitive to light.
  • Create a quieter space. Total quiet may not be possible if you’re in an urban area. That's where white or brown noise comes in. Steady, ambient sounds can enhance sleep quality by reducing the difference between background noise and 'peak' sounds, like car alarms or traffic.
  • Reduce blue light exposure. We touched on it earlier, but this is a big deal when it comes to sleep. The blue light emitted by screens can trick your brain into thinking it’s daytime, disrupting the natural production of melatonin.

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05

Lastly, How Much Sleep Do You Need?

For most adults, the magic number is somewhere between 7 and 9 hours per night. [02] But as we mentioned, the quality of sleep is just as important as the quantity. Deep, uninterrupted sleep is required for the body and mind to do its nightly routine, from repairing cells to processing the day’s emotions. And it’s non-negotiable for longevity. If you’re regularly skimping on sleep, it will show in the short term and long term. Acute sleep deprivation affects your mood, focus, and ability to stay safe (think nodding off at the wheel). Chronic sleep loss has a bigger impact. Studies show it’s linked to serious health issues such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and reduced immune function — even accelerating how fast you age. [15]
05

Lastly, How Much Sleep Do You Need?

For most adults, the magic number is somewhere between 7 and 9 hours per night. [02] But as we mentioned, the quality of sleep is just as important as the quantity. Deep, uninterrupted sleep is required for the body and mind to do its nightly routine, from repairing cells to processing the day’s emotions. And it’s non-negotiable for longevity. If you’re regularly skimping on sleep, it will show in the short term and long term. Acute sleep deprivation affects your mood, focus, and ability to stay safe (think nodding off at the wheel). Chronic sleep loss has a bigger impact. Studies show it’s linked to serious health issues such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and reduced immune function — even accelerating how fast you age. [15]
Key Takeaways:
  • Each stage of sleep plays a crucial role in our health span, aiding in everything from physical repairs to emotional processing
  • A well-aligned circadian rhythm boosts sleep quality by regulating the release of sleep hormones; disruptions to this rhythm can lead to various sleep disorders
  • Maintaining a cool bedroom, dim lights, controlled noise, and minimized blue light are key to fostering a conducive sleep environment
  • Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night to avoid negative short-term and long-term consequences including disrupted focus, chronic disease, and accelerated aging
Key Takeaways:
  • Each stage of sleep plays a crucial role in our health span, aiding in everything from physical repairs to emotional processing
  • A well-aligned circadian rhythm boosts sleep quality by regulating the release of sleep hormones; disruptions to this rhythm can lead to various sleep disorders
  • Maintaining a cool bedroom, dim lights, controlled noise, and minimized blue light are key to fostering a conducive sleep environment
  • Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night to avoid negative short-term and long-term consequences including disrupted focus, chronic disease, and accelerated aging

Reviewed by Alessandra Zonari, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) and Co-Founder of OneSkin

Alessandra earned her Master’s degree in stem cell biology, and her PhD in skin regeneration and tissue engineering at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil in collaboration with the 3B’s Research Group in Portugal. Alessandra did a second post-doctoral at the University of Coimbra in Portugal. She is a co-inventor of three patents and has published 20 peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals.

Reviewed by Alessandra Zonari, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) and Co-Founder of OneSkin

Alessandra earned her Master’s degree in stem cell biology, and her PhD in skin regeneration and tissue engineering at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil in collaboration with the 3B’s Research Group in Portugal. Alessandra did a second post-doctoral at the University of Coimbra in Portugal. She is a co-inventor of three patents and has published 20 peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals.

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