A good night’s sleep is so vital that the average healthy person will spend nearly one-third of their lives sleeping. As we age, it’s common that sleep patterns will change – although for some seniors, unfortunately, these sleep changes can prove to be harmful. Staying educated on the importance of sleep and healthy sleep patterns can lead to the prevention of illnesses and improve the quality of life. Here, we’ll detail why sleep is so important for seniors and what seniors can do to make sure they get the best sleep possible.
Health benefits of a good night’s sleep
Everyone can relate to feeling tired. But the common signs of a lack of sleep, such as low energy, irritability, and confusion, are only what we see on the surface. Studies have shown that getting between seven to nine hours of sleep every night can help seniors to improve overall health on a deeper level, including brain and body tissue function. When we sleep, the body has the opportunity not only to rest but to repair as well. The body repairs cells as we rest and creates hormone and protein molecules, restoring energy and providing much-needed nutrients throughout the entire body. The nerve cells in our brains also need this period of rest to reorganize, resulting in healthy brain function. A regular healthy night of sleep will improve a senior’s reasoning skills, mood, alertness, and memory – all of which will aid in a more enjoyable independent living lifestyle.
If a change in sleeping habits occurs
As we get older, the need for rest does not change within our bodies. Still, many seniors will find themselves unable to sleep as well as they used to. This can be due to medications or common daily stressors that come with age. All seniors, however, should take note of any changes in their normal sleep patterns, as the inability to sleep can be a sign of more serious underlying health conditions. In the same vein, if a persistent lack of sleep goes untreated, a foundation for more health risks can be created as well.
Common health risks linked to sleep deprivation include a loss in cognitive function, depression, headaches, and body aches, and general weakness of the body. More serious health issues can arise because of a weakened immune system due to a lack of sleep, including various cancers, infections, diabetes, and heart problems. Those with a history of stroke or Parkinson’s disease may experience restlessness as the parts of the brain that control sleep is compromised through these illnesses. Alzheimer’s has also been attributed to ongoing sleep disorders such as sleep apnea or insomnia as these illnesses cause an increase in the production of amyloid, a protein associated with cognitive disease.