Sleeping well would make you feel younger

Sleeping well would make you feel younger

We often hear that age is in the head. But a study carried out in Sweden shows that feeling young is not simply a matter of subjective perception. It’s also a question of sleep.

You may have ever felt like you didn’t “look your age” when you looked in the mirror. For good reason, we do not always have a fair perception of our biological age. American researchers have previously discovered that after the age of 30, most people tend to underestimate their age. In other words, they think they are younger than they really are.

While this discrepancy between subjective age and biological age may make you smile, it has serious medical consequences. Indeed, the illusion of youth is associated with better cognitive performance, greater life satisfaction and, more generally, better physical and mental health.

But how do you feel young? Is it enough to dress or speak like a “young person” to unconsciously become one? If we are to believe researchers at Stockholm University, the secret lies in the quality of your sleep. “Since sleep is essential for brain function and overall well-being, we decided to see if it holds any secrets to keeping you feeling youthful“, explains Leonie Balter, researcher at the psychology department at Stockholm University, in a press release.

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Preserve your sleep so as not to age (in your head)

To do this, Leonie Balter and her colleagues first questioned 429 individuals aged 18 to 70 about their feelings about their age. They also asked them to estimate the number of nights during which they did not get enough sleep in the month preceding the study, as well as their level of sleepiness. It turns out that for every night of insufficient sleep, volunteers felt on average 0.23 years older.

Secondly, the academics carried out an experiment with 186 participants aged 18 to 46. They asked them to sleep only four hours for two nights, then get two real nights of sleep (with nine hours of sleep each). It appeared that the volunteers felt on average 4.4 times older when they did not get enough sleep.

The research team hypothesized that the effects of sleep on perceived age were related to the level of sleepiness. She noticed that feeling alert made one feel four years younger than their biological age. Conversely, extreme sleepiness contributes to subjective aging. Subjects who struggled to stay awake thought they were six years older.

These results, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, show to what extent the quality of our nights can promote or, on the contrary, weaken our mental health. “It is essential to preserve our sleep to maintain a feeling of youth. This in turn can promote a more active lifestyle and encourage healthy behaviors, as feeling young and alert motivates us to stay active“, emphasizes Leonie Balter.