Want to live longer? Research shows that sleep could be key

Developing a sleep disorder can put you at increased risk of heart disease and even death

Older man sleeps soundly in his bed
(Image credit: Getty)

For some, bedtime is their favorite time of the day meanwhile others dread lights out. Sleep disorders are more common now and it is important that you try and avoid developing one or aim to reduce the symptoms of one as it can lead to greater health implications.

Protecting your health as best as possible as you grow old is crucial to living a long and healthy life. Investing in equipment to keep you fit like a best treadmill can be a great help for any adult looking to lengthen their lifespan. An exercise machine like this can aid weight loss, boosting your metabolic rate, it can increase mobility and strength, and can improve heart health.

But maintaining good health also has a strong association with the quality of your sleep. A new study published in the European Respiratory journal reveals that sleep can have a significant impact on your likelihood of developing heart problems and risk of death.

A research team from Flinders Health and Medical Research Institute: Sleep Health used a large US-based dataset of more than 5000 adults aged 60 or over to understand the health risks related to sleep-related disorders - specifically insomnia and obstructive sleep apnoea (COMISA).

Note, the study uses the word COMISA to define if both sleep conditions were present.

Older healthy couple sit on sofa together

(Image credit: Getty)

The researchers discovered that those with COMISA were twice as likely to have high blood pressure as well as being at a 70% greater risk of developing heart disease than participants with neither of the sleep disorders.

In addition to this, they also found that participants with COMISA were 47% more likely to die (for any reason) than the participants without insomnia or sleep apnoea. This accounted for other factors that are known to increase mortality.

If sleep is something that you struggle with, regardless of the severity of this, there are ways to try and improve the quality of your sleep. Fit&Well spoke to sleep expert and chartered physiotherapist, Sammy Margo to find out some useful tips and tricks for improving your sleep.

A sleep expert's guide to improving your sleep

  • Rhythm and Routine:  Sammy explained that as humans our bodies love going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. She said that sticking to the same rhythm and routine can be made easier with a smartwatch, such as the HUAWEI WATCH GT 3, to track your sleep and identify patterns in your sleep. 
  • Day light: Sammy informed us that a lack of sunlight exposure can lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) at this time of year which can make us feel sluggish. Morning exposure to daylight has been linked to good sleep and research has shown that those who were exposed to more daylight during the morning hours experienced better sleep, fell asleep more quickly and had less sleep disturbance.
  • Sleep Position: Just like sitting at your desk is a posture, so is sleeping. Make sure that your mattress suits your sleeping position explained Sammy. If your mattress is more than 8 years old it will have deteriorated by 75% so it may be time to get a new one if you can. Along with your mattress, you may also need to add a comfy best mattress topper to soften the landing if it’s too hard or a cooling topper if it’s too hot.
Jessica Downey

Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her career in journalism began in local news and she holds a Masters in journalism. Jessica has previously written for Runners World, penning news and features on fitness, sportswear and nutrition. 

When she isn't writing up news and features for Fit&Well covering topics ranging from muscle building, to yoga, to female health and so on, she will be outdoors somewhere, testing out the latest fitness equipment and accessories to help others find top products for their own fitness journeys. Her testing pairs up nicely with her love for running. She recently branched out to running 10Ks and is trying to improve her time before moving on to larger races. Jessica also enjoys building on her strength in the gym and is a believer in health and wellness beginning in the kitchen. She shares all of this on her running Instagram account @jessrunshere which she uses for accountability and for connecting with like-minded fitness lovers.