Have you ever noticed that older peoplesleep less than in youth? In fact, this is a well-known fact, but the reasons for this phenomenon are not well understood. A group of researchers from the University of California at Berkeley wondered if people older than 65 years sleep less because they need less sleep, or is it because they can't get enough sleep? The results of the study are published in the journal Neuron. Scientists argue that the reason lies in the work of certain brain mechanisms that change with age.
Why do people sleep?
Every living creature on our planet needsin a dream. According to the lead author of the study, Matthew Walker, this means that sleep developed along with life, accompanying all stages of evolution. Moreover, when we sleep, we become useless: we do not seek food, we do not work, we do not communicate. From this point of view, a dream may seem like a dead end branch of evolution, since a sleeping person is a godsend for a predator. However, the reason we sleep lies in the fact that sleep is important for life as such. The human body is designed in such a way that every major organ in the body needs sleep in order to function normally.
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It's no secret that in recent years, scientists have been payingspecial attention to the study of sleep. So, our regular readers are aware of the dangers of lack of sleep and the need to get enough sleep every day. By neglecting sleep, you are at risk of developing many diseases, including depressive disorders, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
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At the same time, researchers learned that withWith age, a person’s ability to sleep soundly decreases. Thus, getting the required amount of sleep becomes more difficult every year. To understand exactly why it is happening and whether it is possible to deal with it, scientists turned their eyes to the brain.
How does the brain change with age?
During the study, scientists conducted a series ofexperiments on laboratory rats. Experts compared the number and type of chemical signals associated with sleep in young and older individuals and found that the chemical characteristics are the same regardless of the age of the rodents. However, according to the authors of the study, the problem lies in the fact that the receptors in the brain that receive the signal weaken with age. This means that everything works as before in an aging brain, but it is not capable of picking up signals. Just like an antenna that cannot pick up an incoming signal. Experts do not exclude that sleep deprivation can contribute to the aging of the body. Walker hopes that the results of the study will help to better understand the causes of aging.
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It may surprise you, however, the number of hourssleep begins to decrease gradually from about 20-30 years of age and continues tirelessly over time. In fact, when a person celebrates his 50th birthday, sleep quality worsens by about 50% compared to 20-year-olds. By age 70, sleep quality is getting worse. Instead of going through proper sleep cycles that provide good sleep, a person wakes up during the night, constantly suppressing the deep sleep that is necessary for the brain to function properly. According to researchers, this is one of the most dramatic physiological changes that occur during aging.
Can I sleep longer?
Unfortunately, a quick fix to this problem ontoday is not. Too few studies have been conducted on this issue. In addition, sleeping pills, which are often prescribed to older people, mainly have a calming effect, not guaranteeing a healthy night's sleep. According to experts, cognitive-behavioral therapy can help, which has shown excellent results in the treatment of insomnia. Scientists also advise to avoid caffeine in the afternoon, sleep in a cool room and exercise regularly and have no doubt that the hard work of researchers to prevent sleep deprivation will be successful with age.