| Tue, Mar 01, 2016 @ 09:00 AM

The Benefits of a Good Night’s Sleep

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

sleepSleep patterns tend to change with age. You may notice that it takes longer to fall asleep, you may wake up several times during the night, or you may wake up too early. When you get out of bed, you may not feel refreshed. You’re tired. You may even feel like you didn’t sleep a wink.

There are many reasons why you may have trouble sleeping. Medications, needing to use the bathroom, late afternoon naps, anxiety, discomfort or pain due to chronic illness, insomnia or other sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy or hypersomnia or sleep apnea may be keeping you awake at night. No matter the reason, people who don’t get enough sleep may be at greater risk for accidents, confusion and disease or other health problems; such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

How Much is Enough?

Older adults need the same amount of sleep as everyone else — about seven to nine hours per night. If you’re not getting a full eight hours of sleep every night, it does not necessarily mean your health is at risk. Different people have different sleep needs. Some people do fine on six hours of sleep a night. Others need 10 to 11 hours of sleep. If you aren’t getting enough sleep each night, there are a few things you can try that may help you sleep better, like following a regular sleep schedule or creating a comfortable sleep environment.

The Benefits of a Good Night’s Sleep

Besides being tired and feeling the need to power down at the end of the day, sufficient sleep is beneficial to your health. The Harvard Medical School, Harvard Women’s Health Watch suggests six reasons to get enough sleep:

1. Learning and memory: Sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory through a process called memory consolidation. In studies, people who’d slept after learning a task did better on tests later.

2. Metabolism and weight: Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, and by altering levels of hormones that affect our appetite.

3. Safety: Sleep debt contributes to a greater tendency to fall asleep during the daytime. These lapses may cause falls, road accidents or other mishaps.

4. Mood: Sleep loss may result in irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate, and moodiness. Too little sleep can also leave you too tired to do the things you like to do.

5. Cardiovascular health: Serious sleep disorders have been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, and irregular heartbeat.

6. Disease: Sleep deprivation alters immune function, including the activity of the body’s killer cells.

They Don’t Call it Beauty Sleep for Nothing

If staying healthy and alert aren’t reasons enough, getting a good night’s sleep may even improve your looks. You know what happens when you toss and turn the night before — it shows all over your face the next day. Not getting enough sleep makes the blood vessels dilate and cause those dark circles under your eyes. Your skin may sag, making you look worn out. When you sleep, your body, including your skin, goes into “repair mode” and renews itself by replacing old, tired cells with brand new cells.

Don’t underestimate the importance of a good night’s sleep. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, discuss your concerns during your annual Wellness visit covered by Medicare Part B or make an appointment to see your doctor sooner.

For more information, explore MedicareMadeClear.com or contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048.

Resources:

5 Tips That May Help You Sleep Better: MedicareMadeClear.com

The Benefits of Sleep: Harvard.edu

Medicare Made Clear: MedicareMadeClear.com

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