Getting enough sleep – and making sure it is high-quality sleep – is important for all of us, but it is especially important for older Americans.
It affects almost every aspect of our mental and physical health, including some of the aspects of health with which older Americans tend to struggle the most.
The next time you consider burning the candle at both ends, remember these benefits to getting high-quality sleep every night.
Improves Concentration and Memory
Sleep is when the brain is processing everything from the day before. Sometimes it combines or interprets the day’s experiences in strange ways, which is why you wake up wondering what the heck that dream was about. It is just your brain’s way of working through data.
The brain also performs a sort of clean up while you sleep. Your brain cells are surrounded by fluid, which needs to be flushed out and replaced with clean fluid on a regular basis. This cleanup occurs primarily during sleep, so if you are not getting enough sleep, you are essentially letting trash pile up in your brain.
Of course, this does not mean a good night’s sleep can cure dementia, which is increasingly common in older Americans. But alongside other healthy habits, it can help prevent dementia.
Have you ever gone to sleep obsessed over something, and in the morning wondered what you were so worried about?
While it is true that things often look different in the light of day, it is not the daylight that makes them look different. It is the fact that your brain was able to rest and process the events of the day before, putting them into context.
When your brain is rested, it is much easier to maintain a sense of perspective and to think of creative solutions to problems. When you are tired and stressed you are more likely to jump straight to assuming you will be forced to face the worst-case scenario.
It is well documented that people who get at least eight hours of sleep a night are less likely to get sick. Everything from the common cold to chronic illnesses are more likely to affect the sleep deprived than the well rested.
Since older Americans are not only more likely to get sick, but also more likely to be hospitalized or even die from these illnesses, it should come as no surprise that they can benefit from a good night’s sleep even more than the rest of us.
Speeds Up the Aging Process
One study showed that even one night of bad sleep caused cells to age faster compared to when the person was well rested.
This is about more than just wrinkled skin. Everything from bone density to joint and brain health can be affected by a faster aging process.
As with most things, you have the final say in whether you get a good night’s sleep. But at Stillwater Senior Living, we are committed to doing everything we can to help all our residents sleep peacefully at night so they can continue to live their best lives. If you have any questions about how we do that, you can reach out now. We are always happy to talk about all the ways we strive to keep our residents healthy and happy.