Floating bed with a cloud over it

Don’t snooze through this.

We’re never averse to a tip or two on how to promote longevity, and when the solution comes for free, that’s an added bonus. New research shows that certain sleep habits may have the power to add nearly five years to a man’s life expectancy, and 2.5 years to a woman’s.

“If people have all these ideal sleep behaviors, they are more likely to live longer,” said study co-author Dr. Frank Qian, a clinical fellow in medicine at Harvard Medical School and internal medicine resident physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, per CNN.

“If we can improve sleep overall, and identifying sleep disorders is especially important, we may be able to prevent some of this premature mortality,” he added.

According to the research, which compiled answers from over 172,000 people who answered sleep questionnaires between 2013 and 2018, there are key sleep habits that can improve your chances of a longer life. Each of these habits was assigned a number, and participants were scored depending on how many of the habits they maintained.

“Compared to individuals who had zero to one favorable sleep factors, those who had all five were 30% less likely to die for any reason, 21% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease, 19% less likely to die from cancer, and 40% less likely to die of causes other than heart disease or cancer,” a statement on the study read.

Without further ado, these are the key sleep habits to nurture for health.

1. Get a full seven to eight hours per night

More than a third of Americans are underslept according to the CDC. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society advise that adults aged between 18 and 60 years old sleep for at least 7 hours every night. Sleeping less is associated with the development of conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, stroke, and stress.

It’s worth noting that research indicates women actually need more sleep than men. Studies on health tend to have a bias toward male bodies, and skate over the fact that women are 40 percent more likely to suffer from insomnia. Women’s sleep may also be interrupted at various life stages thanks to menstruation, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause.

What’s more, evaluations for dangerous conditions like sleep apnea — which is associated with a higher risk of coronary artery disease, heart attacks, heart failure and strokes — tend to look at symptoms associated with men, rather than women. Women’s sleep apnea can therefore fly under the radar, leading to more serious health issues down the road.

2. Have an uninterrupted, peaceful sleep

Your head may have hit the pillow, but that doesn’t mean you’re maximizing your sleep potential. The study also showed that it’s crucial not to wake up in the middle of the night, or have trouble getting to sleep more than twice a week.

Waking up during the night can interrupt your sleep cycles, which disturbs the processes that occur in the brain which are necessary for proper rest. Uninterrupted sleep is associated with memory consolidation, which probably won’t come as a shock to anyone who’s ever found themselves struggling to remember their schedule the day after a restless night. There’s also evidence that fragmented sleep can contribute to age-related cognitive impairment, and conditions like Alzheimer’s dementia and Parkinson’s disease.

We’ve got a few tips on how to drift off more easily — and why your sleep cycle may be out of whack — here.

3. Don’t rely on sleep medications

While it’s perfectly understandable — and may be necessary — to fall back on sleep aids occasionally, these shouldn’t be the backbone of your sleep routine. Maintaining a solid, regular sleep schedule is essential to reap the benefit.

“We’re talking about not just quality and quantity of sleep, but regularity, getting the same good sleep night after night,” sleep specialist Dr. Raj Dasgupta told CNN.

4. Wake up rested

It sounds like a no-brainer, but if getting nine hours of rest doesn’t actually translate into a refreshed, energized state the next morning, something’s not clicking.

If you’re going through menopause, and hot flashes are contributing to your troubled night, we’ve got a few tips on how to minimize those annoying effects. Just to cover your bases, it’s also important to ensure that the room you’re sleeping in is also the right temperature — we’ve got the scoop here. And if sharing a bed with your beloved partner is causing you to hit the coffee pot extra-hard every morning, here’s our case for a sleep divorce (if you’re lucky enough to have a spare room!).

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