Why does sleep get even more precious as we get older? As an adult, a nap or a whole day of sleep seems so much more euphoric than it did in our younger years. We often look back at sleep’s past say to ourselves “those were the days”. As adults, we assume that our busy lives keep us from getting the appropriate amount of rest. This assumption is aided by the fact that kids, who have little to no responsibly, have the leisure of sleeping anytime they want to. However, the truth is that quality of sleep naturally declines the older we get; it’s science, not lifestyle.
According to a study out of UC Berkley, after the age of 30 quality of sleep starts to go out the window. The reason is our brains have already started to deteriorate in our 30s. Basically, the first area to break down is the same region that provides the ability of deep sleep. Without the ability to enter deep sleep our quality of sleep goes down. That answers for why we can sleep for hours and still feel tired. It’s not the quantity of sleep but the quality which allows us to go through our day feeling refreshed.
What is poor-quality sleep? Poor-quality sleep is when we get less non-REM sleep or dreamless sleep, which is also referred to as Delta sleep. A lack of Delta sleep messes up the way our brains turn important short-term information into long-term memories. For men, Delta sleep declines 50 percent in men in their 30s, compared to when they were in their 20s. Women of the same age decline by 25 percent, which is less than men but still high.
Sleep deprivation or a lack of good-quality sleep can have negative health effects. For one it puts people at risk for an assortment of diseases. Almost every disease that attacks people who are middle-aged or elderly has a casual link to lack of sleep. Good-quality sleep is not necessarily longer, but deeper; though it is recommended for adults to get at least seven hours. And sleeping pills are not the answer since achieving non-REM sleep cannot be done through medication.
At this time nothing can be done about the fact that the deterioration of our brains is decreasing our quality of sleep. However, we can try sleep longer and more often increase the chases of achieving Delta sleep. A couple tricks to help induce sleep include don’t look at screens, read a book, drink water instead of eating, cooling your feet. You can also try exercising within three hours of your bedtime. Hopefully, these methods with lead you to find what you’re looking for. In the meantime, sweet dreams.