Sleep less, live longer?

By • Published: December 14th, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

To understand how a woman’s sleep habits affect her longevity, take a lesson from Goldilocks. If you remember, she was a little picky. One bed was too soft. Another was too hard… and then she found the one that was just [draw out, juuuuust] right.

It turns out an older woman’s need for sleep is actually a lot like that, at least when it comes to figuring out what amount will ensure a longer life.

Eight hours your ideal? That might be too much.

Only need four-and-a-half hours of shut-eye a night? Nope, not enough.

What about six hours of sleep? You guessed it… just right.

To figure this out, scientists from the University of California, San Diego began studying the sleep patterns of more than 400 women in the mid-1990s. Fourteen years later, they followed up with the ladies.

The women were all between the ages of 50 and 81 when the study began, and about 86 of them had passed away by the time researchers conducted the follow-up study.

The scientists discovered that the women who were sleeping just five to six-and-a-half hours a night were the ones who were most likely to be alive 14 years later.

This differs from previous findings, which link survival to sleeping more, usually six-and-a-half to seven-and-a-half hours a night.

Most studies show that adults tend to need less sleep at night. A recent British study showed that adults over age 60 generally get about forty-five minutes less sleep each night than adults in their 20s.

But considering the results of the University of California study, this may actually not be all bad.

The bottomline: If you’re an older woman worried about how not getting enough winks at night, don’t. Even five hours of sleep may be enough.

In fact, it’s just right.