Woman sleepingExperts have found that in order to maintain a healthy brain and stay mentally sharp, we must make it a priority to get the required amount of sleep in later life. The new report into sleep in later life was conducted by the Global Council on Brain Health, in an initiative jointly convened by Age UK and the AARP.

According to the new research, sleeping well becomes harder as we age. Our sleep patterns change, so we become more vulnerable to waking up during the night and earlier in the morning.

Feeling sluggish and under the weather is a common experience if we don’t sleep well, but there is less awareness of the fact that those of us who have chronic, inadequate sleep on a regular basis are at higher risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, fall-related injuries, and cancer.

James Goodwin, Chief Scientist at Age UK, said: "Sleeping is something we all tend to take for granted, but we really have to wise up to the fact that getting the right amount of good sleep is crucial as we age, helping to protect us from all kinds of problems that can affect our brains as well as our bodies."   

Disturbances to sleep in older age can be environmental, such as the temperature of a bedroom, or related to lifestyle factors such as eating late or taking certain medications. Sleep disorders such as sleep apnoea are also more common in later life and ‘deep sleep’ decreases in adults between the ages of 30 to 60.