According to a research abstract presented last week at SLEEP 2008, a link between normal sleep and healthy aging has been found.

Researchers at the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) studied 2,226 women 60 years of age or older. To conduct the study, researchers took reports of napping, sleep latency, early morning awakening, overall perceived sleep quality, and other sleep factors.

Of the participants, 20.8% were considered “successful agers.” Results showed that less daytime napping and fewer complaints of sleep maintenance insomnia best predicted successful aging. Increased severity of sleep disturbance predicted lower self-rated “successful aging” and a greater difference between perceived and actual age.

“Our findings that reports of better sleep are related to successful aging reinforce the idea that good sleep is of utmost importance for good health,” says Sonia Ancoli-Israel, PhD, of UCSD. “Health care professionals need to ask their patients—of all ages—about sleep and help those with poor sleep to find ways for improvement.”

Older adults often get less sleep than they need due to trouble falling asleep, sleeping less deeply, and waking up more often.