Importance of Sleep
Getting an adequate amount of sleep is important at any age, but it becomes increasingly difficult to achieve a good night’s sleep the older we get. Up to 70% of older adults face challenges with getting a full night’s sleep due to common hurdles such as pain, nighttime urination, medication, and sleep apnea. It is also a common misconception that we don’t need as much sleep as we age—and while we don’t need as much as a newborn baby, older adults should still be striving for 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
There are many ways to work toward living a healthy and independent life—from having a healthy diet to staying physically active. Here is why prioritizing your sleep is just as important.
Poor sleeping habits have been shown to increase the risk of dementia by 33%. Our body processes information, turning that into memories, while we sleep. Getting enough sleep each night helps to keep our brain and memory strong. Studies have shown that seniors who regularly get a good night’s sleep reported positive improved cognitive functioning and memory.
Decrease Risk of Health Conditions
Insufficient sleep can put added stress on our body, which leads to inflammation and a weakened immune system. A lack of sleep has been linked to increased risk for health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease. Sleep is when our body recovers and undergoes restorative functions such as tissue repair and muscle growth. Without enough sleep, our body simply can’t keep up—this is when we find ourselves tired, achey, and more susceptible to sickness or falls.
It’s no secret that you can wake up in a spectacular mood after an especially good night's sleep. Sleep and mental health often go hand-and-hand, with both impacting the other. Not getting enough sleep has been shown to link to depression and anxiety, while in-turn mental health conditions can contribute to disturbed sleep quality. Getting consistent, good sleep has been linked to better decision making skills and decreased levels of stress and anxiety.