Older adult couple joyfully walking on beach looking well rested

How poor sleep can accelerate the signs of aging

Getting quality sleep on a regular basis helps stave off the aging process. This may motivate some employees to treat their sleep issue.

Sleep — A “youth serum” for employees?

Poor sleep is tied to any number of chronic conditions — cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, dementia. Getting good sleep can reduce risk.

But many people disregard the risks or think it’s too much effort to deal with a sleep problem. They accept lack of sleep as normal and even boast about it.

While it’s not a given that we’ll develop a chronic condition, it is a sure bet that we’ll age. And that may be the ticket to getting your employees’ attention around sleep.

Middle age is when we start to notice signs of aging — there’s some physical wear and tear, our memory is not as sharp and the effects of a short night’s sleep are more noticeable. We’re less active and put on weight. We’re just not as resilient as we used to be. We need quality sleep more than ever at this stage of our lives.

A full night of quality sleep has a positive effect on:
  • Cleansing the brain of waste to help cognitive function
  • Balancing our hunger and satiety hormones
  • Replacing our energy stores and helping us feel motivated to exercise

If these facts are still not enough to persuade your employees to take action to help their sleep, it might get their attention if they knew that getting quality sleep on a regular basis helps stave off the aging process.

Supportive research

A 2015 UCLA study found that just one night of insufficient sleep in adults aged 61 and above promoted molecular processes involved in biological aging. In another study, people were less inclined to socialize with those who looked sleep deprived and considered them less healthy and attractive-looking. And a third study concluded that people with obstructive sleep apnea appeared more youthful and attractive after treatment. In fact, some people undergo cosmetic surgery because they want to look less fatigued, when adequate sleep could possibly help accomplish them that goal.

“Poor sleep is not normal and anyone experiencing it should be evaluated and treated, if warranted,” notes Alp Sinan Baran, MD, Medical Director of SleepCharge. “And that’s exactly what Nox Health’s SleepCharge program is designed to do — medically identify and treat sleep disorders, support patients with behavioral strategies that help optimize sleep, and provide educational resources to help employees stay healthy and avoid premature aging.”

Bottom line

We all get to watch our genetics play out as we age. Why compound whatever we have working against us with poor sleep habits or an unaddressed sleep disorder? It’s never too late to initiate good habits around sleep and seek help if you’re having trouble. You’ll feel better and those signs of aging may start to disappear.


Sources: American Academy of Sleep Medicine (2015) Partial sleep deprivation linked to biological aging in older adults; Chervin, R et al. (2013) The face of sleepiness: Improvement in appearance after treatment of sleep apnea, J Clin Sleep Med; Sundelin, T et al. (2017) Negative effects of restricted sleep on facial appearance and social appeal, R Soc Open Sci.

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