Sleep quality – not quantity – is more important for a healthy and happy life

Getting good quality sleep may be more important to living a healthy and happy life than getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep, according to research.

Researchers have found that those who reported getting a good night’s sleep — typically defined as falling asleep quickly (within 15 minutes) and staying asleep without waking up too often — also reported a better quality of life than those who didn’t.

Quality of life was measured using five parameters: life satisfaction, well-being, happiness, subjective health and workload.

The researchers said their findings, published in the journal Plos One, showed that sleep duration isn’t as important to a person’s quality of life as getting a good night’s sleep.

The scientists wrote: “Better sleep means better quality of life.

“While it matters when and how long we sleep, people who have better sleep quality also have a better quality of life, regardless of the time and length of sleep.”

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get at least seven hours of sleep every night.

As part of the study, researchers from Charles University and the Czech Academy of Sciences followed more than 4,000 people in the Czech Republic over a three-year period, with adults responding to surveys in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

The team also looked at “social jet lag,” where socially controlled sleep patterns and biological sleep rhythms mismatch.

Like normal jet lag, social jet lag is the result of the human body moving between two time zones: one determined by work and social commitments, the other by the internal time system, the circadian clock.

A growing body of research is showing how important good quality sleep is to health, and that a one-size-fits-all adult sleeper for seven to eight hours of sleep a night isn’t necessarily required for everyone

Professor Neil Walsh

It can also happen that people go to bed later and wake up later on weekends than on weekdays.

The team found that sleep quality was linked to health and happiness, while work stress was linked to social jet lag.

But the researchers write: “The study suggests that sleep duration is not as important to quality of life as what is considered a good night’s sleep, along with differences in workday and non-workday sleep habits, except at extremes.”

They added, “By following 4,253 people for three years, we found that those whose sleep improved also had an improved quality of life.”

Professor Neil Walsh of Liverpool John Moores University commented on the study, saying the results “suggest a strong relationship between self-reported sleep quality and quality of life”.

Prof Walsh, who recently authored a paper on sleep quality and infection, told the PA news agency: ‘A growing body of scientific work is showing the importance of good sleep quality to health and that a one size fits all suits seven to eight hours of sleep each night for adults is not necessarily a requirement for everyone – individual sleep needs also play a role.

“Studies are needed to address the limitation that these findings are associative — it’s not clear whether poor sleep quality reduces quality of life, or whether low quality of life leads to poor sleep quality.

“Additionally, studies are needed in a larger population, over a longer period of time and ideally with more objective measurements of sleep and clinical health outcomes.

“The measures in this study were self-reported.

“Nonetheless, these new results support the recommendation that improving sleep quality may have positive implications for clinical health outcomes.” Sleep quality – not quantity – is more important for a healthy and happy life

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