Sleep: The Ultimate Anti-ager
Aging > The ultimate anti-ager
The benefits of a good night’s sleep are unarguable. For anti-aging benefits, there are few other so simple or immediate tactics.
Sleep provides many benefits that support healthy aging. For example, sleep facilitates an increased production of cells and decreased breakdown of proteins. The combination of these processes functions to repair cell damage from stress and a host of environmental factors.
Our individual needs for sleep vary widely. Most do well with about 7 or 8 hours of sleep each evening. Some need more and others, much less. Your body knows and will tell you if it is getting enough sleep or in need of more. Most Americans do not get enough sleep. The problem often becomes more pronounced with aging. If you are not getting enough sleep it is only a matter of time before you begin to notice the ill effects of sleep deprivation. Some of these include difficulty with memory, concentration, hand-eye coordination and response time. There have been a number of stories in the news in recent years about car accidents caused by sleepy drivers. It is clear that adequate and regular sleep is important.
Increased use of medications often comes with aging. Some of these impact our sleeping patterns and/or the quality of sleep we get. If you are having difficulty sleeping, and believe it is attributable to your medication, talk with your doctor. If your sleep trouble is not related to medication try one or more of the following suggestions. If you continue to have trouble sleeping, it is absolutely imperative that you talk with your doctor. Attempting to solve the problem yourself (i.e. using alcohol or over the counter sleep aids) will not help and may even exacerbate the problem.
• Establish a bedtime routine and ritual.
This works great for kids and can work well for adults too. With time the body anticipates the experience of sleep when you engage in the ritual. A cup of tea (or other ritual of your choosing) becomes a mental signal to slow down and prepare for rest. Also, try to retire and wake at the same time each day.
• Avoid alcohol, caffeine and smoking
Although you may fall asleep more quickly with a night cap, the quality of your sleep will be compromised. Avoid caffeine and alcohol for several hours before bedtime. You should also avoid cigarette smoking as nicotine withdrawal can awaken you during the night.
Exercise is another great anti-aging tool. A good exercise program also supports good sleep habits. It is important that you do not exercise within several hours before bedtime as you will compromise the quality of your sleep.
• Manage Stress
We can all expect some stress as it is a part of life. The key is to manage stress well. Deep breathing, meditation, and prayer are but a few of the many strategies you can use to maintain inner balance. If worries are keeping you awake try writing out lists or plans to address your concerns. Differentiate between what you can and cannot control. Learn when to let go. If you continue to be plagued by anxiety and stress consider talking with a trusted friend or professional.
• Create the right environment
Wear comfortable clothing and set your thermometer to the ideal temperature for you. Eliminate light in your bedroom, including the light from your alarm clock. Bright lights may signal to your brain that it is time to wake up. Avoid sensational programming such as the news just before bedtime. Try listening to soothing music instead of falling asleep with the television on.
• Other strategies
Drink a glass of warm milk or have a relaxing bath before bedtime.
Sleep provides a sound program for slowing the aging process. Aim for quality, uninterrupted sleep each evening. You will enjoy the benefits of restfulness throughout each day.