The Week in Sleep News: March 29, 2024

New research shows that not getting enough sleep at night may make you feel older than you are.

Two people sitting up in bed reading newspapers. Text reads: Sleep News Week of March 29, 2024

This week in sleep news…

Not getting enough sleep may make you feel older

It’s not just you: A night of bad sleep can make you feel subjectively older, according to a new study published in Proceedings B. The study enlisted 429 people, ranging in age from 18 to 70, to document how old they felt, and how much they had slept in the past 30 days. Researchers found that participants reporting insufficient sleep also responded that they felt older than they were. In fact, each day of poor sleep added an average of 0.23 years to their subjective ages, with two nights of sleep restriction (considered four hours per night) making people feel nearly four-and-a-half years older than they did on adequate sleep. Participants who were extremely sleepy felt a decade older, while those sleeping for nine-plus hours per night felt younger than their actual ages.

Exercising regularly can help you sleep better at night

If you’re looking for motivation to kick-start a fitness regimen, new research published in the journal BMJ Open has found that those who are persistently active have less trouble falling asleep, and enjoy higher-quality sleep. Researchers looked at sleep data over a 10-year span, from 4,339 participants in nine European countries. The study found that people who started and ended the study with at least an hour of exercise a week were 42% less likely to struggle with falling asleep, 22% less likely to have any insomnia symptoms, and 40% less likely to have more than one symptom. These participants were also 55% more likely to get six to nine hours of sleep consistently.

If you haven’t been active, all is not lost: The researchers also found that those who had not been active, but began to exercise during the study period, were 21% more likely to improve their sleep, compared to those who kept up their inactive lifestyles.

Troops still aren't getting enough sleep

Sleep deprivation is widespread in this country, including among members of the United States Armed Forces. A new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), released this week, shows that service members report getting fewer than six hours of sleep per night, with rates that are twice as often as civilians. The report cites numerous fatigue-related risks, and details the high cost of fatigue-related accidents and near-misses. The report makes recommendations for the Department of Defense to increase responsibility and accountability for better sleep prioritization for troops.