“I love sleep because it’s like a time machine to breakfast.” Whoever said that was pretty smart! But there are many other smart reasons to love a good night’s sleep, including:
Protecting Against Health Problems
As researchers from the University of California, Berkeley noted, “Sleep deterioration has been linked to such conditions as Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, obesity, diabetes and stroke.”
Protecting Our Thinking and Memory
Poor quality sleep has been linked with stroke and a higher risk of dementia. Recently, much exciting research has revealed the answers to some of the mysteries of sleep—and our understanding of sleep’s effect on the brain is a big milestone. Neurologists now know that it is while we’re slumbering that our brain clears out harmful waste products that accumulated during the day. And sleep is the time when our brain converts the short-term memories of the day into long-term memories.
Making Us Much Safer Drivers
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that getting behind the wheel when we haven’t slept well puts us at higher risk of a crash due to drowsy driving.
Helping Us Maintain a Healthy Weight
According to SleepFoundaton.org, “Research has found that people tend to consume more calories and carbohydrates when they don’t get enough sleep, which is just one of several ways that poor sleep may be tied to obesity and problems maintaining a healthy weight.”
Reducing a Senior’s Risk of Falling
A recent study published by the American Geriatrics Society showed that poor sleep increases the likelihood that an elder will fall. In addition, seniors who sleep poorly are more likely to get up at night, another fall risk.
Keeping Us Active
A study from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that disturbed sleep is linked with disability and impairment in the activities of daily living and mobility.
If you’re having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, or if you think you might have a sleep disorder such as insomnia or sleep apnea, talk to your doctor right away.
Lifestyle Changes that Can Help You Get Better Sleep
- Changing your diet
- Avoiding caffeine and alcohol near bedtime
- Making the room darker and quieter
- Getting more exercise (but not too close to bedtime)
- Putting away smartphones and tablets near bedtime and reading a book or listening to quiet music instead.
If lifestyle changes don’t improve matters, sleep specialists can conduct an evaluation and recommend other treatments. Check with your doctor.