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5 hours of sleep a night is the limit for good health in people over 50, research indicates


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Getting at least five hours of sleep a night can reduce the likelihood of a number of chronic health problems for people over 50, new research finds.

Health problems can interfere with sleep — but poor sleep can also be a harbinger or a risk in itself, they say.

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There’s evidence that sleep helps restore, rest and rejuvenate the body and mind — but it’s not yet clear why specifically five hours of sleep might be important.

The PLoS Medicine study monitored the health and sleep of UK civil servants.

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All of the approximately 8,000 participants answered the following question: “How many hours of sleep do you get on average per night during the week?”

Some also wore a wristwatch to monitor sleep.

They were screened for chronic conditions, including diabetes, cancer and heart disease, over two decades of follow-up.

Some of the conclusions observed were:

  • those who slept five hours or less by age 50 had a 30% higher risk of various diseases than those who slept seven hours;
  • shorter sleep at age 50 was also associated with a higher risk of death during the study period, mainly linked to increased risk of chronic disease.

Experts generally recommend about seven or eight hours of sleep, according to researchers at University College London (UCL) in the UK and Paris Cité University in France.

Why do we sleep?

Scientists aren’t sure the answer to this question, but it’s clear that sleep helps the brain process memories and is good for mood, concentration, and metabolism.

Sleep is also an opportunity for the brain to “cleanse” itself of waste.

Tips for sleeping well

  • Get tired during the day by keeping busy and active, but slow down at bedtime.
  • avoid daytime naps;
  • establish a good nighttime routine and make sure your bedroom has a relaxing, sleep-friendly environment — thick curtains or blackout blinds, room temperature, and comfortable bedding without major distractions such as using your cell phone in bed;
  • reduce or eliminate caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime;
  • if you can’t get to sleep, don’t force it or get frustrated — get up and do something relaxing, like reading a book, and then come back when you’re sleepy;
  • If you work antisocial shifts, try to get some sleep before your first set of night shifts to transition. If you’re coming in from a night shift, try taking a nap to compose yourself and then go to bed early that night.

“This work reinforces that getting too little sleep is not good for us. Generally, it’s not healthy — although for some it might be ok,” Surrey Sleep Center director Derk-Jan Dijk told BBC News.

“The big question is why some people sleep less. What is causing it, and is there anything we can do about it? Sleep is a modifiable lifestyle factor to some extent.”

Long periods of poor sleep can severely affect well-being.

Doctors in the UK public health system rarely prescribe sleeping pills, which can have serious side effects and can be addictive.

But sleep problems can usually be resolved with professional help.

This text was originally published here

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I have over 10 years of experience working in the news industry. I have worked for various news websites and have been an author at News Bulletin 247 for the past 2 years. I mostly cover technology news and have a keen interest in keeping up with the latest trends in the industry. I am a highly motivated individual who is always looking to improve my skills and knowledge. I am a team player who is always willing to help out others, but also able to work independently when required. I am proactive and always take initiative to come up with new ideas and solutions.

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