We all know the drill when it comes to the importance of sleep. Sleep in general, and deep sleep in particular is needed for the body and brain to rest and repair. Despite this message being entrenched in society, getting a good night’s sleep still evades most people.
Nine out of ten people do not get a good night’s sleep, according to research presented at the European Society of Cardiology 2022.1
The amount of sleep you need depends on your age. Latest research by scientists from Cambridge University looked specifically at the optimal sleep requirement for those middle aged and older. Researchers looked at data from nearly 500,000 adults. Participants were asked about their sleeping patterns, mental health and wellbeing, and took part in a series of cognitive tests.
By analysing the data, researchers found that seven hours of sleep per night was the optimal amount for cognitive performance, mental health, and overall wellbeing.2 The results were specific to those middle aged and older.If you’re one of the majority of adults who fail to get enough sleep, it may be tempting to think that napping is the answer. However, in a surprising new study in 2022, it was found that those who nap the most have a 12% increased risk of developing high blood pressure and 24% higher risk of stroke compared to those who never take a nap.3
This latest research sounds alarming because let’s face it, most of us have enjoyed taking an afternoon nap from time to time. The occasional nap is no problem at all. The problem, according to researchers, is using short daytime sleeps instead of good quality. Daytime naps do not provide the same benefits as getting one long period of sleep. Naps can interfere also with your ability to get a good night’s sleep.
The key thing is to focus on getting quality sleep at night for seven hours. Once you can tick that box, it’s less likely that you’ll need daytime naps.
Poor sleep affects cognition, mental health, and cardiovascular health
We’ve all had a poor night’s sleep – or many poor sleeps in a row. If this resonates with you, you’ll know how being tired impacts your ability to function the next day. Brain fog, feeling vague, irritable, tearful or forgetful. Here’s a stark fact; you’re more likely to have a car crash when you’re sleep deprived!Latest science from 2022 reveals just how bad sleep deprivation is for your health. A huge new study of 26,000 older people (45 – 85 years old) with insomnia found that those with insomnia are at greater risk of developing memory decline and more serious problems such as dementia. Those with insomnia were also more likely to experience anxiety, depression, have breathing problems during sleep and even have higher body mass index. The study found that men with insomnia performed worse on memory tests than women, suggesting men are at greater risk of insomnia-related memory decline than women.4
Poor sleep habits also have a negative effect on cardiovascular health. In a ground-breaking new study, researchers looked at the link between cardiovascular events and sleep in 7,200 people between the ages of 50 and 75.5
The researchers adjusted for factors that could skew the results, such as age, smoking, physical activity and cholesterol levels.
They found that those with the highest sleep score (best overall sleep) had a whopping 75% lower risk of heart disease and stroke versus those with the worst sleep score. For every 1-point increase in sleep score (improved sleep), the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke decreased by 22%.
It takes a while to digest those numbers because they are so significant. The good news is that sleeping problems can be solved. Like most health issues, it takes time and focus to get results. Our top tips for a good night’s sleep are:
- Exercise regularly. Research shows that those who exercise for about three and a half hours a week have an easier time falling asleep and staying asleep. However, don’t exercise too close to bedtime as it can have a stimulating effect.
- Bright light/dim lights. Our internal clocks are regulated by light exposure. Sunlight has the strongest effect so open your curtains or step outside into the daylight when you wake up. Conversely, dimming the lights in the evening triggers the release of melatonin – the glorious sleep hormone.
- Relax and clear your mind in the evening. Set a time to turn off your phone/computer and actively find ways to switch off your mind too.
- Avoid caffeine in the afternoon. Six hours after caffeine is consumed, about half of it is still in your body. Avoid alcohol. Even a small amount of alcohol reduces sleep quality by 9.3%.
For extra support for sleep, supplements such as Xtend-Life’s Serene Saffron and Marine Magnesium can help. Serene Saffron is designed to help regulate stress hormones and to support a positive mood, both factors that play an important role in healthy sleep.
Research shows that magnesium plays a large role in sleep regulation and lack of this nutrient negatively impacts sleep. Xtend-Life’s Marine Magnesium is an excellent source of bio-available magnesium.