Lack of Sleep Can Kill You
In talking with several friends and relatives recently, I’m surprised by how many of them have problems getting a good nights sleep. Obviously, this has a negative impact on their energy levels, but it may also become a serious factor in their overall health.
While writing our book, The Best of Our Lives: Sharing the Secrets of a Healthy and Happy Retired LIfe, my wife Trisha and I were shocked by the information we discovered concerning the relationship between sleep and health. Interestingly, The National Institute on Aging found that many older adults wrongly consider poor sleep to be a normal part of aging. It is not. In fact, as seniors we need from 7 – 9 hours of sleep each night, just like a young child.
The NIA also found that 36% of women and 13% of men over the age of 65 take thirty minutes or more to fall asleep. Numerous studies on this topic have concluded that seniors who fail to get enough sleep have been found more likely to suffer depression, attention and memory problems, excessive daytime sleepiness, more nighttime falls. and use more over-the-counter or prescription sleep aids. Simply stated, seniors who do not get sufficient sleep have a poorer quality of life.
Just this week the results of Norwegian sleep study that followed nearly 53,000 participants over 11.4 years was reported. It concluded that persons who struggle nightly with sleep are 45% more likely to suffer an acute heart attack, and those who have difficulty staying asleep had an elevated risk of 30%. The risk was correlated with the severity of the sleep deprivation. I should also mention it has long been demonstrated that poor sleep is associated with an elevated risk of stroke.
So, what do we seniors need to do? Obviously, if you have a serious problem sleeping, consult a physician. Snoring, Sleep Apnea, and Movement Disorders are very real physical problems that need to be addressed. Often it turns out, we’ve just gotten into too many bad habits over the years. Examples are falling asleep in front of the television, leaving the radio on, having too much light and other distractions near our bedrooms, etc. Some feel a good old glass or two of wine will do the trick. Turns out alcohol may help you fall asleep, but will actually prevent you from a the full and restful night’s sleep you require. The best advice is to turn off the news, eliminate distractions, and try to put the stress of the day behind you. Put together and follow a relaxing nightly routine to help you wind down and sleep peacefully. Sweet dreams.