Sleep: the key to a longer life


We all know that getting a good night’s rest is important, but recent studies have shown skimping on sleep could shorten your lifespan. Professor Matthew Walker of UC Berkeley recently published his article Sleep and Human Aging , which explores how the quality and amount of sleep a person gets affects their lifespan. Walker wanted to explore the much observed trend that as people age, they have a tendency to get poor quality and smaller amounts of sleep. However, their main question was whether this was because older adults simply need less sleep, or if they lose their ability to sleep well.

Poor sleep in older adults has been tied to deteriorating parts of the brain, and a likelihood of a memory decline later in life. With age, the brain also begins to have difficulty producing important neurochemicals that promote restful sleep, causing many doctors to prescribe sleeping medications.

However, sleeping pills are not recommended as they merely sedate the brain rather than restoring the ability to sleep well. One of the major challenges facing the medical industry is creating a healthy treatment for poor sleep patterns. Although scientists continue to explore areas such as electrical stimulation and other non-pharmaceutical methods, there has yet to be a consist method.

One of the major concerns with sleep patterns is how society views sleep. There is too much emphasis on the amount of sleep rather than quality and there is a strong reliance on artificial light, a major culprit in poor sleep quality that has been tied to shorter lifespans and higher incidences of cancer. Sleep remains a major factor in quality and length of life.  Although already on the market as a treatment for sleep apnea,  sleep treatment through a non-pharmaceutical agent like electrical stimulation would be a major breakthrough in global medical device markets.