Get some shuteye

by Laura

A lack of sleep could be damaging your health, so turn off the light and catch some Zs.

Many of us are still on the go in our 50s and some of us lead even busier lives than we did in our 20s, 30s and 40s. We may not have young children to care for any more, but we’ve managed to fill the gap with work and leisure activities that leave our timetables pretty packed.

Chances are if someone said you should ‘slow down and take it easy at your age’ you’d be tempted to turn around and punch them in the face. But if your busy lifestyle is affecting your sleep, then they may have a point.

According to the Sleep Council, we tend to wake more frequently during the night when we get older, and we also spend less time in the deepest stages of sleep. As a result, we’re more likely to suffer from disturbed sleep patterns or have trouble sleeping altogether.

For women, hormonal changes during the menopause can also have an impact on the amount of quality shuteye enjoyed. But what’s the problem? If you can get by on five hours of sleep a night without falling into the land of nod during the day, then surely it’s a non-issue.

Well, according to researchers at the University of Warwick, a lack of sleep can have some serious consequences for our health and wellbeing and all of us – not just Nifties but younger folk too – should be getting more of it.

They found that those of us who sleep for less then six hours a night, or suffer regularly from disturbed sleep, have a 48 per cent higher risk of heart disease. We’re also more likely to experience strokes or develop high blood pressure. Now there’s a cheery statistic.

“Sleep is nature’s way of providing us with rest, recovery and energy. There is nothing else that does the same thing,” Professor Colin Espie, director of Glasgow University’s sleep centre, told the Independent.

“But too many of us treat sleep like a commodity. We disrespect it, even treat it as a nuisance that gets in the way of waking hours.”

Do you fall into this category? Whether you’re simply too busy to sleep, or you genuinely have trouble nodding off, exercise and fresh air can be a great help, while a comfortable bed can work wonders. Off to Sleep Masters then…

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