Surprising Health Benefits of Getting More Sleep for The Elderly

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The elderly need about six to ten hours of sleep a night young adults. Sadly, many seniors get less of their sleep requirement because of difficulty to induce sleep. According to studies, 13% of men and 36% of women who are more than 65 years old takes over 30 minutes to go to sleep. Moreover, an elderly’s sleep quality is low, which leads to more sleep-wake episodes throughout the night. For this reason, our seniors nap longer in the daytime. 

Poor sleep is usually dismissed as a common sign of aging. But, in actuality, it is an underlying problem of the elderly that needs to be addressed. Are you surprised? Sleep has many health benefits. These benefits are vital to the elderly as their health requirement increases along with their age. 

Here are some of the surprising health benefits of getting more sleep for the seniors:

Sharper Memory and Increased Focus

Sleep is essential for both the memory and the learning process of the brain. If an elderly is sleep-deprived, memory recall and maintaining focus will be more challenging. On the contrary, a night of good quality sleep helps the elderly increase focus to be able to take in and process new information. Moreover, a senior’s brain needs enough rest to be able to pull up memories – both short and long-term.  

Improved Mood

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Sleep is an essential factor in regulating the emotional aspect of a person. As the brain deteriorates with age, the emotions and mood of a person also change. Sleep loss makes an elderly prone to negative emotions like being irritable and anxious. 

Studies show that insomnia predisposes a person to depression, anxiety, and panic disorders. The odds become higher with the older population. 

Everyone, especially the elderly, needs enough rest and sleep for a refreshed feeling, improved mood, and a better sense of well-being.

Tougher Muscles 

An active lifestyle and proper exercise help the elderly maintain a healthy body. To be able to be active, there should have enough muscle strength to do activities like running, biking, and swimming. 

The muscles need a proper amount of rest and nutrients to work and undergo repair if required. Even if an elderly eat the required nutrition for muscle repair, sleep deprivation will make muscle repair slower. Ample sleep will help increase muscle repair and can improve reaction time. In this way, an elderly can still perform at his best, regardless of age.

Stronger Immune System

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A stronger immune system decreases the chances of getting sick. It prevents harmful microorganisms like bacteria and viruses from the body. Now, older people may have a weakened immune system relevant to organ degeneration. They get sick quicker than younger ones. Because of this, enough rest and sleep are essential to let the body recover and maintain a healthy immune system. 

A good read: How Aging Affects Your Immune System

Sturdier Heart

One of the most common problems with aging is high blood pressure. It increases the chances of older people to heart attack and heart conditions. Enough and good quality sleep helps in maintaining an ideal blood pressure, which lets the heart and blood vessels work well. When a person has rested properly, it reduces the chances of getting high blood pressure because the mind and the physique is at its optimal state.

On the contrary, sleep loss results in higher blood pressure, which can be as long as more than 24 hours. This scenario is very harmful to the elderly as their blood vessels are prone to rupture, which could eventually result in a stroke.

Recommended read: Sleep deprivation: A cause of high blood pressure?

Normal Blood Sugar

The risk of having diabetes increases as age progresses. It is because the ability of the body to process the sugar intake slows down over time. Sugar, especially simple sugars, are not easily metabolized when the body is at rest compared when the body is at work. Sleep plays a crucial role in how the body converts sugar to energy. Study shows that proper sleep helps older adults process sugar faster, which in turn maintains normal sugar blood levels. 

Better Weight Control

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Being well-rested promotes a healthy diet. It is because the lack of sleep affects the appetite hormones in the brain, leptin, and ghrelin. The imbalance of the appetite hormones makes a person prone to an unhealthy appetite.

Older adults need proper nutrition and an excellent appetite to maintain a healthy, sickness-free body. The lack of sleep makes them more vulnerable to appetite problems, which can either result in weight gain or loss. 

Sleep and Getting Older

While it is true that sleep pattern changes as we age, it is still important to make sure that we get good quality sleep every day. Here are some pointers to help our seniors get more sleep:

  • Create a sleep schedule. Go to be and wake up at the same time every day. 
  • Take fewer naps during the day.
  • Practice an active lifestyle. Try to exercise if you can. An active lifestyle helps improve sleep quality and length at night.
  • Eat and drink healthy. Avoid caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea, and sodas in the evening, especially just before bedtime. Caffeine is a natural stimulant and prevents you from falling asleep fast.
  • Avoid alcoholic drinks and smoking cigarettes, especially at night. Small amounts of alcohol make you more awake instead of helping you sleep. Aside from increasing the risk of lung problems, a cigarette contains a stimulant, nicotine.
  • Create a comfortable sleeping space. Use comfortable linen. You may also introduce therapeutic products like a weighted blanket for the elderly to help reduce stress and anxiety or use a good memory foam mattress that will ensure you got good quality sleep.

A Good Reminder

Sleep is vital to help the body recover from the past activities of the day and to be ready for tomorrow. It is, however, more important for our elderly to have more sleep for them to be able to have a longer and healthier life.

About the Author

Sarah Smith is a health and wellness writer. Her interest includes formulating good-to-know guides on health and wellness and guidelines wellness products. Recently, she made articles about how to choose the best weighted blanket for the elderly and how to help the elderly sleep more. In her free time, she travels and takes photography lessons.

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