How A Good Night’s Sleep Can Lead to Healthy Aging

  • March 14, 2018
How A Good Night’s Sleep Can Lead to Healthy Aging

Sleep is the body’s natural defense against sickness and diseases - using this time to repair the cellular breakdown of the day. Though seemingly one of simplest habits of a healthy lifestyle – achieving a good night’s sleep remains challenging for millions.

Sleep can be especially difficult for older adults, as decreased quality of sleep is part of the aging process. However, sleep is crucial to healthy aging, and it is important for seniors to make every effort to get enough quality sleep.

The Effects of Sleep Deprivation

While a good night’s sleep is important for your mood, energy levels, and overall health, your mind and body are equally affected by sleep deprivation, and not in a positive way. Lack of sleep can lead to:

  • More Falls. Being drowsy can affect your balance and coordination, making you more prone to falls.

  • Memory Problems. Impaired cognitive function including, short and long-term memory loss and trouble with concentration, creativity and problem-solving skill, tripling your risk of falling.

  • Mood Swings. More likely to be moody, emotional and quick-tempered. People with high impulsivity traits are twice as likely to fall compared to people with low impulsivity traits.

  • Health Risks. Sleep deprivation increases your risk for high blood pressure, blood sugar levels and blood pressure, making you at risk for obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Aging and Sleep: Why Seniors Have More Trouble Sleeping

According to the National Sleep Foundation, it takes people, on average, about 10 to 20 minutes to fall asleep once you get into bed. Yet, studies of adults over 65 indicate 13% of men, and 36% of women need more than 30 minutes to fall asleep. When it comes to aging and sleep, there are a variety of factors that can lead to disrupted sleep or sleep deprivation. Some of the major concerns about aging and sleep include:

  • Producing less of the chemicals and hormones that help us get a good night’s sleep as we age, such as Melatonin.

  • An increase in anxiety and depression caused by significant life-changing events, such as retirement or losing loved ones.

  • Medications that can interfere with the duration and quality of sleep.

  • Sensitivity to environmental factors, such as noise.

  • Chronic pain, such as arthritis.

Sleep Routine Tips

Health experts from the National Institutes of Health, recommend that seniors get seven and a half hours of sleep to promote healthy aging. In order to ensure that you will get adequate sleep at night and avoid sleep deprivation, there are some ideal conditions that should be met:

  • Temperature. Your bedroom should be dark and cool (between 60- 67 degrees Fahrenheit). Sleeping in a cold room is better for your health, as your body temperature naturally lowers.

  • Lighting. Use low lighting the hour before bed to help increase your natural levels of melatonin, which will help you sleep.

  • Backlit Screens. Avoid screens, like computers, tablets, televisions, etc., for an hour before you go to bed.

  • Time. Face bedside clocks away from the bed to help decrease anxiety about the passing time.

  • Bathroom Risks. Go to the bathroom prior to going to bed, as frequent bathroom users have a higher chance of slip- and- fall accidents, especially in the dark and in a rush.

Avoid Common Habits that Can Lead to Sleep Deprivation

Following the same bedtime ritual nightly can help to improve sleep and cut down on the time it takes to actually fall asleep.

  • Distractions. Bringing distractions into your bedroom, like computers, TVs, and work can negatively affect sleep. Leave work and entertainment for another room.

  • Food. Eating dinner less than two hours before going to sleep can keep you up at night. Prepare and eat dinner at least two hours prior to bedtime to give your body enough time to digest it. Avoid spicy or fatty foods, as they’re associated with acid reflux.

  • Caffeine and alcohol will make sleep more difficult and should be avoided for several hours before sleep.

  • Sleeping pills and sleep aids can be habit-forming and actually increase a sleeping problem.

Sleeping With Your Medical Alert Device

Medical alert devices can also help to promote healthy aging, especially if you are sleep deprived. To ensure you will receive help should you ever need it, wear your medical alert necklace or wristband to bed, unless it is uncomfortable. If that’s the case, be sure to keep it close by (on your nightstand), or check out our wearable buttons, including the wall-mounted button, for easy access in an emergency. Our wearable buttons are offered by all of our devices excluding the Active Guardian.

If you have a medical alert device with fall detection, we do not recommend wearing it to bed, as it can trigger false alarms to our monitoring centers, so be sure to take that into account before hitting the hay.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Medical Guardian is a leading provider of innovative medical alert systems that empower people to live a life without limits.

KEYWORDS: sleep, sleep deprivation, aging, aging and sleep, healthy aging, sleep awareness week

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