The Link Between Sleep And Healthy Aging

A couple sleeping in bed by alarm clock

Why Is Sleep So Important?

People often hear healthcare providers recommend 8 hours of sleep per night. Why is that? People’s bodies have internal clocks that tell the body when to sleep and when to stay awake. When sleeping, the body goes into a REM cycle. This cycle is where dreams occur. During the REM cycle, the body is rejuvenating and preparing to wake up. As people begin to age, the sleep cycle changes.

Sleep deprivation negatively impacts the body

Lack of proper sleep, known as sleep deprivation, leads to a host of health problems. People with sleep deprivation are at greater risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease, and depression. Sleep deprivation can also cause people to develop dark circles, acne, and other physical signs of poor health.

Is there a link between sleep and aging?

As a person ages, the need for a certain amount of sleep remains the same. However, getting adequate sleep can be harder due to the demands of daily life. Additionally, older people tend to be light sleepers that do not go through as many REM cycles as a younger person. People age 65 and older tend to have more trouble sleeping. Additional health issues add to the problem. Sleep disorders affect a person’s attention span, memory, mood, and physical function. As people get older, attitudes toward sleeping also shift. Many people believe insomnia is just a part of the aging process. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Older adults need at least 7 hours of sleep per night.

Healthy aging

Sleep is one of the key ingredients to leading a healthy and productive life. Certain external factors can impact senior citizens and affect sleep patterns. Some of these factors are:

  • Anxiety/depression
  • Medications
  • Chronic pain
  • Lowered melatonin production

Changing sleeping patterns

People with difficulty sleeping can evaluate lifestyle habits to determine if any of these factors are having a negative impact on sleep patterns. Most of the body’s cell turnover occurs during the night when the body is resting. Disruptive sleep patterns affect the body’s ability to function normally which leads to serious health problems.

How much sleep do you need?

A physician will be able to examine a patient to determine if the patient has regular or irregular sleep patterns. The provider will also be able to work with the patient to create a sleep schedule. Talk to a healthcare provider and schedule an appointment to discuss sleep issues.

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