Falling asleep quickly, and staying asleep until the morning, is more important than the number of hours you doze for, a new study has found.
Duration and length of slumber have both been linked to improved health and wellbeing, but few studies compared them. Scientists now say quality is more important than quantity.
Charles University and the Czech Academy of Sciences followed more than 4,000 adults in the Czech Republic over 2018, 2019 and 2020.
Quality of life was measured using five parameters: life satisfaction, wellbeing, happiness, subjective health and work stress.
“Better sleep means a better quality of life,” the scientists write in the study, published in the journal Plos One.
“While when, and how long we sleep is important, i ndividuals with better quality sleep also have a better quality of life – regardless of the time and length of sleep.
"With the exception of extremes, sleep duration – alongside the differences in sleep habits on workdays and free days – is not as important to quality of life as a good night’s sleep.”
The team also looked at ‘social jetlag’ – where socially directed sleep patterns and biological sleep rhythms are mismatched.
Social jetlag is a result of the human body running on a conflicting schedule, where work and social life clash with the body clock (or circadian rhythm). It can also occur when people go to bed later and wake up later at the weekend than on weekdays.
Professor Neil Walsh, of Liverpool John Moores University who was not involved in the study, said the findings “indicate a strong relationship between self-reported sleep quality and quality of life”.
“An increasing body of scientific work indicates the importance of sleep quality – and shows that a one-size-fits-all seven-to-eight hours of sleep each night is not necessarily a requirement for everyone,” he said.
“It’s not clear whether poor-quality sleep lowers quality of life, or whether low quality of life leads to poor sleep quality.
A Harvard study last month found regular restful sleep may extend life by five years for men, and two years for women.
Telegraph Media Group Limited