It is said that a good night’s sleep can solve, virtually, any problem. The trouble is that, as we get older, we find ourselves dealing with bouts of sleeplessness. According to a new study from UC Berkeley, it appears that deep sleep can not only keep us younger, but it also prevents life-threatening conditions such as diabetes, heart issues, obesity, strokes, and even some forms of vascular dementia.
Matthew Walker, the lead author of the project, focused on deep sleep benefits and a professor of psychology, declared that all major health issues have one common ground: lack of sleep or, more specifically, poor-quality sleep.
The professor and his team have explained that, as we grow older, our brain’s ability to initiate the deep sleep stage diminishes. Subsequently, the quality of our sleep greatly diminishes, leading to bouts of sleeplessness or waking up a couple of times during the evening. This can lead to various health issues, including obesity, strokes, dementia, and diabetes.
Moreover, according to Walker and his team, it would appear that this decline in sleep quality is not one of the perks of getting old. Studies reveal that the inability to commence and maintain deep NREM (non-rapid eye movement) starts to decline in the early 30s.
So, why is this happening? As Walker explained, during our 30s, a specific brain area, whose job is to produce the neurochemical necessary to initiate and maintain NREM begins to degrade.
Naturally, with this brain area beginning to degrade, as we grow older, we’re much more prone to staying awake later in the night, since we can’t sleep and, of course, wake up feeling tired and foggy.
Walker also stated that spending more time in bed doesn’t necessarily mean we’re getting the rest we need. What does this all mean?
As the study pointed out, we have done marvels in the area of prolonging life, but we have made little steps in the area of health span. Walker said we need to concentrate more on ways of keeping the individual healthy for a longer period.
So, what’s the solution to the old age associated sleeplessness? Well, the UC Berkeley team pointed out that not all old age adults are having this issue, some of them sleeping even better than they did during their teen years.
However, for the rest of us, Walker recommended that we try something more on the line of light psychotherapy or small lifestyle changes, rather than taking a handful of sleeping pills.
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