You must have heard that every person has three ages. The first is the number of years lived, the second is the state of the body, the third is the brain.
What is sleep age?
People sleep differently at different ages, and any doctor knows that worsening sleep quality indicates health problems. Sometimes difficulties at night appear much earlier than the first symptoms of the disease: for example, Parkinson’s disease is often preceded by constant nightmares – a person may encounter them five to ten years before the manifestation of other signs of trembling paralysis.
On July 22, 2022, the Npj Digital Medicine journal published the results of a study conducted by scientists from Stanford Medicine and Technical University (Denmark) under the guidance of MD and sleep expert Emmanuel Mignot. Experts analyzed data from 12,000 people to develop a system that would allow them to determine the sleep age and then, based on it, identify trends associated with mortality.
The strongest predictor of mortality
During the interview, Emmanuel Mignot was asked which of the findings he considers the most important. The doctor replied that the scientists could identify one trend that no one knew about before: “Sleep fragmentation, when people wake up several times a night for less than a minute and do not remember it afterwards, is the strongest predictor of mortality.”
Do you often wake up at night?
The scientists are going to find out in subsequent studies how exactly such night vigils affect a person and if they are a symptom or a cause of problems. There are two other prognostic variables associated with an increased risk of death, Mignot says — a decrease in the “efficiency of naps” — its benefits for recuperation — and a reduction in REM sleep.
But there is good news: the age of sleep is not a number carved in stone and, therefore, unchanged. It can be improved in very simple ways – go to bed and get up at the same time (not too early and not too late), sleep in a dark room, eat only healthy food long before bedtime and exercise regularly.