4 things you need to know about aging and sleep

October 2, 2015

Skimping on rest can have far-reaching effects on your health. These are some facts about sleeping when you're older, and how to get better rest overall.

4 things you need to know about aging and sleep

1. Poor sleep leads to poor health

  • In one Yale University study, those who got only five to six hours of sleep a night doubled their risk for diabetes.
  • If you snore and regularly wake up feeling as though you've barely slept, you may have obstructive sleep apnea. This is a breathing problem that raises your risk for high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke.
  • Not getting enough rest can also fog your thinking skills, slow your reaction times and leave you vulnerable to anxiety and depression.

2. One good sleep works wonders

  • A night or two of refreshing sleep can lift your mood and clear your thinking.
  • Just a few good nights begins to reverse metabolic changes that raise your odds of diabetes.
  • Fixing sleep apnea can immediately lower blood pressure.

3. Sleep heals

  • Sleep is like a universal healer.
  • Getting enough will provide you with numerous benefits, like more energy, a better mood and clearer thinking.
  • Sleep can even lower your risk for apnea-related heart problems and diabetes.

4. Getting more sleep can be easy

Here's some tricks to help you get more sleep:

  1. Sip some herbal tea after dinner. Avoid caffeinated coffee and teas, which block the brain chemical that makes you feel drowsy and fall asleep.
  2. Turn off the computer. Working on screens seems to affect the sleep/wake cycle and biological rhythms. So stay away from the computer as bedtime approaches.
  3. Listen to your body. Sleepy? Turn out the light. Not sleepy? Get out of bed. The important lesson is to take your cues from your own body.
  4. Hide the clock. Don't let the glowing numbers, or constantly checking the time, keep you up.
  5. Change beds. Women who sleep with snorers are three times more likely to have insomnia than those sleeping with non-snorers.

Sleeping is an important part of our lives, and it gets more important as we age. It helps us heal, staves off certain problems and elevates our mood. Try your best to get all the sleep you need.

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