There are new findings about sleep and healthy aging:
1. Good health and good sleep: the connection works in both directions. It’s common sense that poor health can keep older adults from getting a good night’s sleep. Poor sleep even raises the risk of falls. It is important to break this cycle by not only managing chronic health conditions as recommended by your doctor, but also seeking treatment for sleep problems. Once diagnosed, insomnia, sleep apnea and other sleep disorders can be treated with lifestyle changes, improved sleep habits, medical devices and in some cases, sleep medications.
2. It’s important to get the amount of sleep that our bodies and minds need. Despite the common belief that seniors need more sleep than younger adults, the American Medical Association tells us that older people on average actually need less sleep than when they were younger. Seniors who find themselves sleeping less may worry needlessly. Sleepiness during the day is the best sign that a person isn’t getting enough sleep and that the problem should be evaluated.
3. Want to maintain a healthy weight? Get a full night’s sleep! Even a single night of sleep loss can both increase the appetite and decrease the amount of energy we use the next day. That combination, over time, can lead to steady weight gain. It may therefore be important to sleep about 7-8 hours every night to maintain a stable and healthy body weight.
4. Allow yourself enough time to wind down and relax in a dimly lit area before going to bed. A lot of us like using a computer, or watching tv, using a cell phone before going to bed, but part of the problem is that we squander some of our sleep this way, due to light emitting screens being in heavy use within the pivotal hour of sleep.
5. A new understanding of the relationship between sleep and Alzheimer’s disease…Sleep is necessary for the formation of long term memories. While we are asleep, our brains are busy creating and consolidating the memories of the day. Neurologists now know that poor sleep also raises the risk of dementia. Also, sleep apnea causes a low level of oxygen that increases the risk of cognitive impairment. Sleep deprivation makes the brain plaques of Alzheimer’s disease appear earlier and more often. Treating insomnia and other sleep disorders could delay the onset of Alzheimer’s, studies suggest. This is yet another reason to bring up sleep problems with your healthcare provider.
SO PLEASE GET YOUR ZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzs!
Nurse RN Dede Merritt