Having a good night’s sleep is essential and provides health benefits – at any age. For example, one study by the University of Colorado at Boulder found that when children sleep, the connections between the hemispheres of their brains strengthen, helping their brain functions mature.
As we age, sleep remains essential and continues to provide health benefits. Without it, we cannot function properly. In fact, individuals older than 65 years of age were nearly half as likely to report unintentionally falling asleep during the day.
Why Sleep Is Important to Your Health?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults get at least 7 hours of sleep every night. For seniors, they recommend between 7 and 9 hours of sleep. But why is all that sleep really necessary?
10 Health Benefits of Sleep
1. helps your memory.
Memory consolidation occurs when the new information presented to your brain becomes more stable for recollection. This consolidation occurs most frequently during sleep when the neural connections that form memories are strengthened. Sleeping gives your mind the ability to process and retain all of the new information that is presented to it each day.
2. regulates your mood & fights depression.
The relationship between sleep and depression seems to be circular. Depressed individuals often report sleep troubles, and yet a lack of sleep can cause a person to become depressed. Making sure you get the right amount of sleep can help fend off depression and depression-like symptoms. It also helps with your mood. Think about the last time you were cranky – did you get a good night’s sleep the night before? Probably not!
3. lowers your risk of diabetes.
Lack of sleep can slow the body’s metabolism, increasing risks for obesity and diabetes. Sleep has also been linked to glucose production – a key player in diabetes. Research shows that chronic sleep deprivation may increase the risk of type II diabetes.
4. helps fight off illness.
The Mayo Clinic reports that people who don’t get enough sleep are considerably more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus. It can also affect how quickly you recover if you do get sick. Think about how much sleeping you do when you’re sick – there’s a reason your body slows down to recover.
5. keeps your heart healthy.
It’s been proven that individuals with sleep apnea, a syndrome which causes them to wake frequently in the middle of the night, often have heart problems. Other studies have shown that this holds true for people who get less sleep – regardless of the cause, and independent of other factors like smoking and eating habits.
6. helps with concentration during the day.
During sleep, your brain not only consolidates your memories from the day before, but it also prepares for the next day. It resets your system so you can take in new information. This helps with your concentration throughout the day. Even something as basic as reaction time is impacted by the amount of sleep a person gets.
7. Maintaining your Circadian Rhythm.
Your circadian rhythm is your body’s internal clock. It is what prompts you to wake up and go to sleep around the same time every day. It is also what makes you want to take a post-lunch nap. When your circadian rhythm is disturbed, you can feel distracted or sleepy at inconvenient times. Think of the last time you had jet lag, or how sluggish you were after you stayed up late to watch a movie. Maintaining a regular schedule (even on weekends) is essential to keep your circadian rhythm balanced.
8. Sleep gives you energy.
This seems simple, but the act of sleeping conserves your energy so you can stay active the next day. Athletes know this and make sure they sleep well before a race or other event. To perform your best, it’s essential to get to bed.
9. helps you maintain your balance.
Getting enough sleep can help maintain your balance. One study found that participants who did not get enough sleep during a week had less balance control than others. This impacts a person’s ability to walk and even stand. As we age, and as balance becomes more difficult to control, we should do what we can to maintain it.
10. Lack of sleep increases inflammation.
People who get less than 6 hours of sleep each night have higher blood levels of inflammatory proteins than those who got more. Inflammation can be linked to heart attacks, diabetes, and strokes.
Getting enough sleep isn’t the cure-all for the health risks listed above. But it plays a crucial role in conjunction with diet, exercise and lifestyle choices. So as you get ready for bed this evening, ask yourself: am I getting enough rest?
About Brightview Senior Living
Brightview Senior Living builds, owns, and manages award-winning vibrant senior living communities in eight states along the East Coast: Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virginia. We offer apartment homes in Independent Living, Assisted Living, Enhanced Care, and Wellspring Village®, a specialized neighborhood for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
Each of our Brightview Senior Living communities focuses on five elements of wellness which we call SPICE. Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual, Cultural, and Emotional. Our amenities and programs encourage active senior living communities and development in these areas, keeping residents active and healthy.