Seniors who don’t experience sleep disturbances could expect six years more of good health compared to those who report severe disturbances.
The findings are the result of a European study of more than 56,000 people that compared sleep duration and disturbances such as insomnia and early waking to determine association with health and life expectancy between the ages of 50 and 75.
There was a steep gradient toward shorter healthy life expectancy in people who reported more sleep disturbances, with those reporting severe sleep problems living just 57% of the years between 50 and 75 in good health. The researchers defined “good health” as living without chronic diseases.
Length of sleep also played a role in long-term health.
Short sleep — less than seven hours a night — was associated with slightly shorter partial life expectancy than mid-range sleep of seven to eight and a half hours.
But the decrease in health was less significant than the findings correlated with sleep disruptions.
Findings were based on self-reported data out of Denmark, England and Finland.
“Finding ways to support healthy sleeping habits in midlife may substantially increase the time spent in good health with advancing age,” the researchers reported in The Journals of Gerontology: Series A.