Healthy Sleep, Healthy Ageing

World Sleep Day - 15 March 2019

Friday the 15th of March is World Sleep Day, an annual event arranged by the World Sleep Society, designed to raise awareness of the importance of sleep and draw attention to sleep related issues, and this years focus is on Healthy Sleep, Healthy Ageing.

As we age, our sleep patterns and the amount of sleep we need to help maintain our physical and mental health changes. 

“As we get older, the hormones that help us sleep are released earlier in the day.  Some older adult’s may feel sleepy earlier than they used to and they may wake up in the early hours of the morning.  Melatonin is a hormone that is produced naturally in the body at night which promotes sleep.  Older people make less melantonin so they may find it difficult to get off to sleep. Other factors may interfere with sleep and cause awakenings during the night.  These include hot flushes in postmenopausal women and the need to go to the toilet during the night.” – Sleep Health Facts Ageing and Sleep.  Sleep Health Foundation.

The affects of a lack of sleep on our daily lives and functioning can be significant.  A lack of sleep can result in:

  • Reduced alertness
  • Reduced concentration and attention span
  • A loss of motivation
  • Poor judgement and decision making skills
  • A reduced work efficiency
  • Slower reaction times
  • An increased likelihood of moodiness or a bad temper
  • Poor memory

And those who are regularly not getting enough sleep tend to look and feel older than they are and have an increased risk of contracting diseases that are associated with ageing such as diabetes and heart disease.

So if you are not getting enough sleep every night, for your long term health and well being, beginning today, make a conscious effort to make some changes that may assist you in getting a better night’s sleep.  

  • Keep regular sleep hours and strengthen your body clocks sleep-wake rhythm. Go to bed and get up at the same time everyday.
  • Avoid alcohol, coffee and other caffeinated drinks for at least four hours before bedtime.
  • Put down mobile phones and tablets an hour before bedtime, and leading up to bedtime use them in moderation and in night mode where available.
  • If you think you may have a sleep disorder, which may include snoring, sleep apnea or insomnia, or have a medical condition such as arthritis or depression that is interfering with your sleep see your doctor.

www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/older-people-and-sleeping.html