Put your worries to bed: How quality sleep can unlock peace of mind for older adults

Apr 12, 2024
Source: Getty Images.

It’s no secret that getting a good night’s sleep is crucial to support overall health and well-being.

Now, researchers from the University of Texas have revealed its pivotal role in attaining peace of mind, particularly for older adults.

The study, led by Zexi Zhou, a graduate researcher assistant in human development and family sciences and first author on the paper, underscores the pivotal role of sleep quality in emotional regulation among older adults.

“Good quality sleep, particularly REM sleep, appears to help older adults process their thoughts and emotions and reduce worry the next day,” Zhou explained.

For the study’s participants, aged between 65 and 89, worrying and dwelling on things showed up in different ways, such as fretting about the future or thinking a great deal about matters from the past.

These thoughts often focused on problems with people, money, relationships, and health, which can really affect how we feel mentally and physically.

The study found something interesting: older adults who worried a lot during the day tended to have trouble sleeping well at night.

As part of the study, participants kept track of their sleep, how much they worried each day, and what they thought about. Surprisingly, how they felt about their sleep turned out to be a better clue regarding how much they would worry the next day than simply analysing how they slept using activity trackers.

“If someone believes they have had a poor night’s sleep, they may experience more worry and rumination, even though, according to the objective data, they had a better night’s sleep than they thought,” Zhou said.

With more than half of adults over 65 grappling with sleep issues due to age-related physiological changes, the findings underscore the urgency of understanding the link between sleep and stress for older individuals’ quality of life.

“Worry and rumination can become a vicious cycle and a good night’s sleep can break that cycle,” Zhou said.

So the next time you are getting ready for bed, remember: a good night’s sleep isn’t just about rest; it’s the key to unlocking peace of mind.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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