Sleeping badly could age you as much as five years, a study has revealed. Just three or four years of broken sleep patterns are linked to a loss of memory and concentration, American researchers found. They say that poor quality sleep is increases the risk of of having impaired mental faculties by up to 50 per cent - equivalent to a five year increase in age. Study leader Dr Terri Blackwell, of the California Pacific Medical Centre Research Institute, in San Francisco, said: ‘It was the quality of sleep that predicted future cognitive decline in this study, not the quantity. ‘With the rate of cognitive impairment increasing and the high prevalence of sleep problems in the elderly, it is important to determine prospective associations with sleep and cognitive decline.’
TOP 10: WAYS TO GET BETTER SLEEP
1) TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT YOUR SLEEP ISSUES: If insomnia persists for several weeks, especially if it's disrupting your daytime activities, discuss it with a doctor or ask to be referred to a sleep specialist.
2) EXERCISE: A morning or evening workout can be beneficial, it promotes the slowest waves of sleep.
3) GO TO ANOTHER ROOM IF YOU CAN'T SLEEP: If awake for more than 20 minutes after your head hits the pillow, get out of bed and go to that room. Don't turn on a light, don't go on the Internet, don't read a book; just relax, he says, for 20 minutes, or until sleepy.
4) DON'T DWELL ABOUT THAT YOU CAN'T SLEEP: People who can't sleep tend to compound the problem by worrying about the consequences of their sleeplessness, like the possibility that they'll do a bad job at work and get fired. Catastrophizing a sleep problem, however, tends to further engrain it
5) CREATE A "BARRIER" BETWEEN WORK & SLEEP: You want to have some sort of break from the day's stress before sleep. If you know you're going to bed at 10:30, stop your day at 10:15, or sooner if you can.
6) DON'T DRINK ALCOHOL TO SLEEP: Alcohol is metabolized by the body, it fragments sleep, which tends to cause nighttime awakenings and next-day tiredness.
7) TRY NOT TO SELF MEDICATE: It's not recommended that people just go out and treat themselves with over-the-counter medications. They never solve the problem, they'll just help you get through.
8) DEVELOP A "PRE-BED RELAXATION RITUAL": try taking a hot bath or sipping a warm cup of chamomile tea; either will raise your core body temperature, which leads to a drowsy feeling as you cool down
9) WATCH A BORING DVD OR SHOW: A DVD or show (make it a boring one) may put some people to sleep.
10) PRACTICE GOOD SLEEP HYGIENE: Use the bedroom only for sleep and sex; keep regular sleep and wake times.