Getting a good night’s sleep may seem like a no-brainer, but as we age, getting enough sleep really matters when it comes to mood and memory. Getting enough sleep is among the many health factors people can control to affect better health outcomes as they age.
According to the National Institute on Aging, adults in their 50s and 60s who get six or less hours of sleep a night are at a higher risk of developing dementia as they age. Getting sufficent sleep is also associated with lower rates of heart disease, obesity and insulin resistance.
It’s important to consider that napping could be affecting your regular sleeping pattern. Experts recommend going to bed and waking at the same times each day, rather than mid-day or late-day napping. Instead of napping, add regular exercise to your routine. Exercise can improve sleep, too.
With the goal of maintaining quality of life and living independently as long as possible, you can control several other health factors as you age:
- Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables and fiber, but also low in fat.
- Exercise regularly, not only working the heart for cardiovascular benefits, but also working muscles with weight-bearing exercises for musculoskeletal and joint health.
- Quit smoking and limit alcohol intake.
- Avoid social isolation and loneliness. If you feel depressed or anxious, Coquille Valley Hospital’s Senior Life Solutions program is designed to meet the unique needs of adults ages 65 and older who are struggling with symptoms of depression and anxiety related to aging.
- Engage in hobbies and enjoyable activities.
- Visit your primary care provider regularly.
- Get adequate sleep, ideally eight hours per night.
Health factors that are not within our control as we age are diseases for which we have a genetic predisposition and family history. These include breast cancer and other types of cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure, for example.
However, healthy lifestyle choices can reduce the risks associated with these diseases in the long-term, so it’s important to see your provider regularly to catch any potential health problems early and to practice the healthy habits that are in our control as we age.