We all need sleep and most of us never seem to get enough. However, not getting enough sleep affects us all in many ways. Furthermore, it is common later in life to begin experiencing sleep disturbances that can affect cognitive function and make learning, thinking, reasoning, problem-solving, and decision-making more difficult.
Not Getting Enough Sleep and How to Sleep Better
Getting enough sleep is important at every stage of life. Unfortunately, throughout your life, you have probably cut back on sleep due to work obligations or the demands of your family. Even one night of bad sleep can affect you, especially the next day. Not only will you feel sleepy, but you will likely be in a bad mood and have trouble with daily activities like driving a car.
How Much Sleep Do You Need?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the number of hours you need to sleep changes depending on age. By knowing this information, you can aim for a target tailored to your stage of life.
- 65+ years: 7-8 hours of sleep
- Adults 26-64 years: 7-9 hours of sleep
Researchers have also found that behavioral, genetic, and environmental factors determine how much sleep you actually need.
What Happens When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep
Your health care provider likely urges you to get enough sleep, and for good reason. Not getting enough sleep has several negative side effects:
- Lack of attention
- Excessive daytime drowsiness
- Impaired memory
- Relationship stress
- Lower quality of life
- Increased likelihood of car accidents
Should you continue to go without sleep, you may see more long-term health issues. Some long-term complications from lack of sleep are:
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- Lower immune system function
- Dimished sex drive
Chronic lack of sleep can also affect your appearance. As time passes and you continue to deprive yourself of sleep, you’ll notice premature wrinkles and dark circles under your eyes. There is also a link between the stress hormone, cortisol, and a lack of sleep. Cortisol can break down collagen, a protein that keeps your skin smooth and supple.
How to Get Better Sleep
Treat Getting Sleep Like a Daily Vitamin
You might not put a good night’s sleep high on your list of priorities, but you probably should. So, treat sleeping like taking a daily vitamin. View it as something you need to do to stay happy and healthy.
Keep a Consistent Wake Time
The time you wake up is just as important as when you go to bed. Keeping a regular sleep schedule will actually help you sleep better.
Put Away Your Electronics
Whether it’s your phone or tablet, you should keep your screen time to a minimum while in bed. The light from electronics has been shown to affect sleep habits.
Avoid Looking at the Clock
The moment you see the time, you automatically start calculating how much sleep you can get in the time left. Doing this kind of mental work while you are supposed to be sleeping can activate your brain to be more awake, conversely affecting how much sleep you will get.
If you are experiencing sleep disturbances, or simply not getting enough, be sure to talk to your doctor about this new development.
If you want other helpful tips to keep you energized as you age, check out our FREE e-book Living and Aging the Way You Want. Inside you will find helpful bits of advice on living your best life. Download your PDF by clicking the icon below.
Concord Reserve is a continuing care retirement community in Westlake, Ohio, with independent living apartments, assisted living, rehab services, and more. We’re focused on supporting the vibrant and active lifestyles of our residents so they can age well. For more information, contact Concord Reserve online or at 440-871-0090.