If you’re like me, there are some mornings when you just don’t want to get up and it's usually because of a bad night’s sleep.
As we age, we often experience changes in our sleep patterns. Although these changes are a normal part of aging, disturbed sleep and other symptoms of insomnia are not. For seniors, a good night’s sleep is especially important because it helps improve concentration and memory formation, allows your body to repair cell damage, and refreshes your immune system, which helps prevent disease.
Here are a few more advantages of a good night’s sleep.
- Reduces inflammation. Inflammation is part of the vascular system’s complex response to harmful stimuli. Inflammation has been linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and arthritis. Research indicates that those who get less than six hours of sleep a night have higher rates of inflammation.
- Helps you lose weight. Researchers at the University of Chicago found that dieters who were well rested lost more fat than those who were sleep deprived. Dieters in the study also felt more hungry when they got less sleep. This is probably because sleep and metabolism are controlled by the same sectors of the brain. When you are sleepy, certain hormones – the same ones that drive your appetite – are elevated.
- Less stress. Getting plenty of sleep helps reduce stress by itself. It also allows the body to function better, meaning that you are able to cope better with life’s daily challenges when your body is well rested.
- Reduces traffic accidents. In 2009, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that being tired accounted for the highest number of fatal single-car crashes.
Tiredness affects reaction time and decision making, increasing your risk of getting involved in a car crash.
Sleep deprivation affects millions of Americans. So what can you do to ensure you’re getting the sleep you need to remain fully functioning and healthy throughout your golden years? Here are some tips:
- Be engaged. Social activities, family, and work can keep your activity level up and prepare your body for a good night’s sleep.
- Improve your mood. A more positive mood and outlook can reduce sleep problems. Find someone you can talk to, preferably face-to-face, about your problems and worries.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise releases endorphins that can boost your mood and reduce stress, depression, and anxiety.
- Expose yourself to sunlight. Sunlight helps regulate melatonin and your sleep-wake cycles. Try to get at least two hours of sunlight a day. Keep curtains and shades open during the day and let the sun shine in!
- Limit caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine. All are stimulants and interfere with the quality of your sleep.
Well, I don’t know about you, but writing this article has exhausted me! I’m off to take a well-deserved nap. Good night!