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Not Getting Enough of This Can Make You Feel Older and Worse About Aging

It’s no mystery why being well-rested makes the day easier to tackle. Having plenty of energy to run errands, like holiday shopping and getting the car washed, just makes life go more smoothly. On the flip side, not catching the right amount of Zzzs each night can make us feel tired and sluggish. And as we get older, a lack of sleep can really take its toll on our body and mind. In fact, new research links poor sleep with not only feeling older, but having a worse attitude about aging.

A recent study published in Behavioral Sleep Medicine looked at how sleep quality could positively or negatively influence a person’s perception of aging. This study included 4,482 UK residents ages 50 and over who are part of the PROTECT study, where participants regularly take cognitive and lifestyle questionnaires for research purposes. Researchers designed a questionnaire that asked them whether they experienced certain age-related changes, such as less energy, poor memory, and decreased motivation. Participants were also asked to comment on their sleeping patterns and quality of rest each night. They filled out the surveys at the beginning of the study, and then again one year later, so researchers could measure the difference.

The study authors found that poor sleep quality was associated with participants feeling older and eventually have a poor outlook on aging over time. Lead study author, Serena Sabatini, PhD, said in a statement that a more negative outlook on aging might influence our sleep, and how we adapt to the changes that come with getting older. “However, it could be a sign that addressing sleep difficulties could promote a better perception of aging, which could have other health benefits,” she added.

How to Get a Better Night’s Rest

Research has found that seven to eight hours of sleep is the perfect amount to keep you alert throughout the day and lower your risk of dementia. Not clocking enough shuteye? It’s worth giving these simple tricks to ensure an uninterrupted night of rest a go!

Eat less salt. Reducing your salt intake can do wonders for your sleep. Why? Sodium narrows your blood vessels, causing your heart to pump faster, which could keep you up a night. Instead, try cooking and seasoning dishes with delicious spices such as dried oregano and turmeric to avoid skimping on flavor.

Brew yourself a mug of tea. Enjoying a hot cup of tea before bed not only reduces your stroke and dementia risk, it can also help you sleep better. Herbal tea blends including lavender, cinnamon, and nutmeg have soothing properties that can help you relax at night.

Turn off your screens. As you sip your Sleepytime, be sure to unplug from your devices. Staying away from screens for an hour before bed helps you fall asleep faster, and keeps you from spending the night scrolling through holiday photos on Facebook (save that for the next day).

It’s clear that nothing compares to a great night’s sleep. Making it a top priority can help you stay energized — and beat the blues about getting older!

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