Thoughts on Better Aging

Are You Sleep-Deprived?

April 14th, 2018

Inadequate sleep can affect your health

Have you been having trouble sleeping? Maybe it seems to take forever to fall asleep at night, or maybe you sleep very lightly, tossing and turning all night long. Either way, you may be missing out on the 7-8 hours of quality rest that sleep experts say you need for optimal health and well-being.

Sleep problems are more common than you might think. In a survey conducted by the CDC, just 31 percent of Americans felt that they got enough sleep every night for a month. About 11 percent admitted that they were sleep-deprived, and the rest fell somewhere in the middle.

There are many possible causes for sleep problems. According to a poll from the National Sleep Foundation, anxiety is one of them. Specifically, about a third of respondents said that worries about money were keeping them up at night. Topics of concern included personal finances, the economy, and losing their job.

Hormonal imbalance is another issue that can cause sleep problems. During menopause and andropause, it’s common for individuals to find their sleep disrupted by insomnia, anxiety, night sweats, and other symptoms that can be traced back to a hormonal cause.

What Happens When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep?

Quality sleep is your body’s opportunity for renewal and repair. When you don’t get enough sleep, many different aspects of your health and well-being can be affected. For example, sleep deprivation can cause:

  • Sluggish Thinking: In studies on US military cadets, researchers found that even moderate sleep deprivation had an immediate negative effect on information-integration abilities, aka the ability to think quickly and make a gut decision in situations requiring fast action.
  • Weight Gain: Poor sleep is linked to obesity. Compared to individuals who get 7-8 hours of sleep, individuals who sleep 6 hours or less are 25 percent more likely to be overweight, and individuals who sleep 4 hours or less are 73 percent more likely to be overweight. This is in part because shorter sleepers have elevated levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin and lower levels of the appetite-suppressing hormone leptin.
  • Accelerated Aging: Inadequate sleep is hard on the body and may result in changes that make you look older. For example, researchers from the University of Chicago found that when individuals sleep less than 4 hours per night for 7 nights in a row, their ability to process and store carbs as well as regulate hormone levels was compromised in a way that may lead to aging.
  • Cognitive Decline: A growing body of research links sleep problems to increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia. One study showed that women who slept less than 5 hours or more than 9 hours had lower scores on cognitive tests than women who slept 7 hours per night. In another study, interruptions to circadian rhythms were identified as a risk factor for Alzheimer’s.
  • Reduced Longevity: Statistics show that getting 6 to 8 hours of quality sleep per night is associated with longevity. In a 22-year study on twins, researchers found that the individuals who slept less than 7 hours per night had a 17 percent increased risk of mortality.

Quick Tips to Improve Sleep

  • Create ideal conditions for sleep: Sleep experts recommend keeping your bedroom dark, cool, and quiet. Invest in blackout curtains or an eye mask to block out light and a white noise machine to cancel out disturbing sounds.
  • Create a bedtime routine: Try to keep a regular schedule when it comes to bedtime. Focus on quiet, calming activities before bed. Examples might include a warm bath, a cup of non-caffeinated tea, and a book or some soothing music. Avoid screen time before bed as the bright light can interfere with your circadian rhythms.
  • Supplement melatonin: The hormone melatonin is responsible for regulating your sleeping and waking cycles. We offer a convenient Melatonin Liposomal Spray you can use before bed to help you fall asleep more easily.
  • Balance your hormones: Age-related hormone decline may be causing or contributing to your sleep problems. Get your hormone levels tested to find out. Be sure to have cortisol tested, as excessive stress is a common cause of sleep problems. Once we have your test results, we can recommend a personalized hormone replacement program for you.

Contact us today to learn more about healthy sleep and healthy aging.

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