Sure we're aware of the immediate consequences of not getting enough shut-eye-- dark circles, drowsiness, and dependence on caffeine to name a few. But a new study shows sleep patterns can have a direct impact on your longevity.
Researchers looked at the link between sleep and diet on mortality among the elderly and found that while sleep is critical to men's longevity, it's diet that determines how long women live. They studied 1,865 men and women and found that, for both sexes, a lack of quality sleep leads to a poor diet and a lowered sense of overall well-being.
"Poor sleep has been associated with increased morbidity and mortality including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and coronary heart disease," researcher Mark Wahlqvist of Monash University said in a release.
Among men, poor sleep contributed to a greater risk of mortality if they also had a poor diet. For women, however, good sleep only provided a "survival advantage" as long as they had a nutritious diet.
Women were almost twice as likely as men to have poor sleep quality, and the women who didn't sleep well had a lower intake of vitamin B6 and iron. The participants who didn't sleep well were less physically active and had poor appetites.
Wahlqvist stressed the importance of women having a balanced diet, rich in protein, vegetables, and vitamin B6. Foods like chickpeas, fish, potatoes, and bananas contain high amounts of the vitamin.
Researchers say the study highlights the need for improved sleep hygiene among the elderly and also the importance of a nutritious diet. Around a quarter of older adults report they get less than the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep.
While many of us have heard the notion that we need less sleep as we get older, it's a claim that isn't necessarily true. Researchers have found various adverse effects related to lack of sleep among older adults. A University of California, Berkeley study showed sleep deprivation can lead to memory loss, especially as our sleep quality lessens with age. A similar study found elderly women are more prone to developing Alzheimer's if they get too little or too much sleep.
So sleep isn't just for beauty it seems. It's also pretty good for your brain.