Why sleep is key to ageing better and living longer

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THE IMPORTANCE OF SLEEP… With more and more studies being done on the importance of sleep, the World Sleep Society is saying we should aim to get at least seven to eight hours a day. Photo: David Lee.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SLEEP… With more and more studies being done on the importance of sleep, the World Sleep Society is saying we should aim to get at least seven to eight hours a day. Photo: David Lee.

GOOD quality rest is key to ageing well, as during sleep, the brain washes away toxins that can potentially damage the ageing brain that accumulate while we’re awake.

The World Sleep Society (WSS) says seven to eight hours of sleep a day may be the answer to improve our future physical and mental health.

According to the WSS there is increasing evidence of a connection between premature cell ageing and poor sleep. The potentially fatal disease, Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA), has been identified as a factor causing premature cell ageing.

Patients with OSA have repeated episodes of partial or complete obstruction of the throat (also known as the pharynx or upper airway) during sleep. A narrow floppy throat is also more likely to vibrate during sleep, which causes snoring.

If partial or complete obstructions occur breathing is reduced or stops for a short time, from 10 seconds up to a minute or more, and blood oxygen levels fall as a result. A brief interruption to sleep that lasts for as little as three seconds then occurs, allowing breathing to start again but your sleep is disrupted as a result. These episodes of obstruction may happen many times, even hundreds of times, overnight.

Some people know that their breathing is not normal at night, but may be unaware that this is a medical problem that is causing them harm. Fortunately, good treatments are available.

There is strong evidence that people with untreated moderate to severe OSA have other health problems including increased risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, depression and accidents. Thinking is less clear, mood is down and productivity at work and at home also suffer.

For further information on how OSA can be treated, visit www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/obstructive-sleep-apnea.html or http://worldsleepsociety.org/