Poor sleep makes you feel older and has worse outlook on ageing

Lack of sleep or poor sleep have always been seen as detrimental to health and now a new study has shown that people over 50s who have poor sleep have a more negative perception of ageing to the point that it could impact physical, mental and cognitive health.

A study led by the University of Exeter and found that people who rated their sleep the worst also felt older, and perceived their own physical and mental ageing more negatively.

For the study researchers surveyed 4,482 people aged 50 and over who are part of the PROTECT study. Researchers noticed that many PROTECT participants were commenting on their relationship with sleep as part of standard questionnaires within the study. Comments included: “How I feel fluctuates widely depending on my sleep. I feel great if I get six hours so about half the time I feel younger and half the time I feel older!” Another comment read: “I have chronic pain problems and get very little sleep which impacts on my life quite a lot.”

The team decided to conduct a questionnaire looking specifically at sleep wherein participants were asked whether they had experienced a list of negative age-related changes, such as poorer memory, less energy, increased dependence on the help of others, decreased motivation, and having to limit their activities. They also rated their quality of sleep. The participants completed both questionnaires twice, one year apart.

Scientists say their findings are an important part of the increasing set of evidence that establish crucial role of sleep in healthy ageing. The more the study to help us understand this further. We’ve got some exciting trials ahead on how to optimise sleep in some particularly vulnerable groups, such as people with dementia in care homes.

The paper is entitles ‘Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Associations between Subjective Sleep Difficulties and Self- Perceptions of Aging’, published in Behavioral Sleep Medicine. The research is the result of a PhD funded by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council Centre for Research Excellence in Cognitive Health.

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