The Importance of Good Sleep for Seniors

The Importance of Good Sleep for Seniors

The Importance of Good Sleep for Seniors

We know sleep is important, but what happens when you don't get enough of it in your later years? Many of us don't get enough sleep, and that can have a negative impact on many aspects of our health. Sleep is a complicated body function that is still not fully understood. But researchers are learning more and more about its mysteries.

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.

Quality sleep is as important as quantity for rejuvenating the body. When we first drift off, our body enters into NREM (non-rapid-eye-movement) sleep and goes through four stages, beginning with light sleep, progressing to deeper sleep. During the fifth stage, known as REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, breathing becomes irregular and shallow, our eyes move rapidly, limb muscles become immobile, and dreaming may occur. The entire NREM-REM cycle lasts about 90-110 minutes, and usually takes place 4-5 times during normal sleep.

Sleep requirements and patterns change throughout your life, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Newborns and infants need about 16 hours of sleep every day. A shift to a later sleep-wake cycle occurs for adolescents and 9 hours of sleep is adequate. Adults require 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Surprisingly, seniors need the same 7 to 9 hours, though they do experience a shift to an earlier sleep-wake cycle.

Research shows that seniors tend to sleep lighter and for shorter spans, spending less time in REM sleep. This change is attributed to the aging process, but may also be the result of other health problems.

New studies show that non-restorative sleep, the kind when you wake up feeling tired and worn out despite getting your usual amount, contributes to a higher risk of widespread pain in older adults, such as fibromyalgia, the kind that affects multiple parts of your body.

Obviously, poor health can keep older adults from getting a good night's sleep. Painful conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis, or wakefulness due to anxiety and depression can have us fruitlessly counting sheep into the night. But we now also realize more than ever that it works the other way as well. Poor sleep in return hastens the progression of the very health problems that keep us awake, and many other diseases that are more common as we grow older: heart disease, musculoskeletal disorders, memory loss, Parkinson's disease, hypertension, diabetes…the list is long. Poor sleep also raises the risk of falls, which can have devastating consequences.

Neurologists now know that poor sleep also raises the risk of dementia. Recent studies show that sleep apnea causes a low level of oxygen that increases the risk of cognitive impairment. Researchers also discovered that sleep deprivation makes the brain plaques of Alzheimer's disease appear earlier and more often.

Like most things, it is possible to get too much of a good thing, even sleep. A study by the Center for Disease Control found that too much sleep as well as too little sleep can both be linked to chronic diseases, such as diabetes. Sleeping longer doesn't necessarily mean you're sleeping well. Both the quality and quantity of sleep impact your health.

Getting More

Being older doesn't mean you have to feel tired all the time. There are many things you can do to help you get a good night's sleep.

Separate from exercise, spending less time sitting may improve sleep quality and health. Those who sit for less than eight hours per day sitting are significantly more likely to say they have "very good" sleep quality than those who sit for eight hours or more.

Here are some other good tips:

· Follow a regular sleep schedule. Go to sleep and get up at the same time each day, even on weekends.

· Develop a bedtime routine. Take time to relax before bedtime each night.

· Keep your bedroom dark, not too hot or too cold, and as quiet as possible.

· Exercise at regular times each day but not within 3 hours of your bedtime.

· Make an effort to get outside in the sunlight each day.

· Be careful about when and how much you eat. Large meals close to bedtime may keep you awake, but a light snack in the evening can help you get a good night's sleep. Use your bedroom only for sleeping. After turning off the light, give yourself about 20 minutes to fall asleep. If you're still awake and not drowsy, get out of bed. When you feel sleepy, go back to bed.

Remember that alcohol won't help you sleep. Even small amounts make it harder to stay asleep.

A Natural Solution

An excellent 100% natural solution to healthy sleep is SeniorLife Health's Sleep Support Formula™ at This all-natural formula gets results for many people and . A great way to achieve better sleep and better health, it's formulated with 12+ ingredients that let you drift into a restful slumber and wake up feeling revitalized (with a mind clear of grogginess).

This scientifically advanced all-natural supplement contains the nutritional requirements that help the body relax and sleep. By providing the body's natural sleep hormone melatonin, plus a collection of calming herbs, and key nutrients, the body is encouraged to naturally eliminate restlessness, anxiety, as well as persistent sleeplessness, and insomnia. complements the body's natural ability to promote fast, safe and deep sleep - like the kind we experienced when we were younger. The ingredients contained within this formula also offer some of the factors which the body uses to make the neurotransmitter called "serotonin," which influences neurons that control such diverse activities as sleep, mood and appetite.

SeniorLife Health's Sleep Support Formula™ at This all-natural formula gets results for many people and supplies the body the proper nutritional support, the vital and normal sleep pattern of dreaming can be preserved and indeed enhanced. Interestingly, "sleeping pills" using conventional drug therapy have proven to cause fewer and shorter periods of dreaming than found in normal sleep.

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