Sleep is interesting, in that everyone sleeps, but some benefit more from it than others. In the context of sleep and longevity, we must agree that the term, ‘sleep’, means quality sleep. Quality sleep means that you fall asleep reasonably quickly, sleep soundly throughout the night to arise rested and restored. Many people get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. It is unavoidable for them. Minimize any lighting while temporarily awake.
People who sleep well every night are less susceptible to severe illnesses, such as:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
Sleep allows your body to repair itself. We absorb more oxygen while asleep and our blood circulation increases. Our brains absorb more amino acids. Things happen that must happen only during our sleep. Remember, most newborns sleep 16-18 hours. The daily requirement for sleep is around seven or eight hours, as we age. The elderly should sleep nine or more hours to fully recharge their bodies.
Melatonin is a hormone that helps us get to sleep. We make less and less of it as we get older. Some people resort to sleeping pills to go to sleep. All prescription drugs (and many over the counter drugs) have side effects. Some people are more sensitive than others. There may be some medical reasons why your doctor would prescribe a drug to help you to get to sleep. Dr. Daniel Kripke is a sleeping pill expert. He has done research on the topic for thirty years. His conclusions regarding prescription sleeping pills are:
- They have been known to cause death, cancer, heart disease, etc.
- People who take sleeping pills have a shorter life span
- All sleeping pills impair memory and performance
- Sleeping pills turn off brain cells
- Sleeping pills tend to cause depression