The Impact of Sleep on Aging

Sleep and Aging

While it’s normal to experience less restful slumber as we get older, this doesn’t always equate to decreased quality sleep. Sleep may actually extend your lifespan! In this issue of PRB’s Today’s Research on Aging we take a look at National Institute on Aging-funded studies which show how poor sleeping can both signal poor health as well as being the catalyst behind disease processes that contribute to biological aging.

Normal aging brings with it several distinct sleep changes, such as an advance in the circadian rhythm, reduced nighttime awakenings and shorter total nocturnal sleeping time, as well as decreased deep and slow wave sleep. Sleep disorders such as sleep disordered breathing, insomnia, circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders and parasomnias can also play a significant role in poorer rates of restful rest with age.

Excellent sleep is vital in maintaining healthy weight, strengthening bones and muscles, strengthening immunity systems and supporting brain function and memory. Conversely, lack of quality rest can result in memory loss, depression and an increased risk for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure and more.

Maintain a regular sleep routine, avoiding stimulants before bedtime, and aim for at least 7-8 hours of restful slumber each night. Furthermore, sunlight plays an integral part of our circadian rhythm and should be enjoyed every day!