Insights from The Orlando Senior Help Desk: The importance of sleep


In “Why We Sleep,” Dr. Matt Walker explains how sleep can make us healthier, safer, smarter, and more productive. He provides knowledge and strategies to overcome the life-threatening risks associated with our sleep-deprived society.

Walker is on a mission to change our attitude about sleep with a book that aims to demystify what sleep is, warn us of the consequences of sleep deprivation, explain the world of dreams, and give us practical advice on rest.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends an average of eight hours of sleep per night for adults, but sleep scientist Walker says that too many people are falling short of the mark. “Human beings are the only species that deliberately deprive themselves of sleep for no apparent gain,” Walker says.

Signs you suffer a serious lack of sleep:

• You sleep less than seven hours.

• A loud alarm always cuts your sleep short.

• You wake up feeling groggy.

• You wake up at random hours.

A lack of sleep may cause hypertension, diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, weight gain, and depression. Depriving yourself of a good night’s sleep, may weaken your immune system and cause you to get injured more easily. Restless nights may lead to relationship stress and lower libido.

Sleep boosts longevity, health and mental wellbeing.

Walker suggests that we get more sunlight. That’s your first step to fixing your sleep. Sunlight aligns your body clock — known as the circadian rhythm — to daylight. So when the sun is down and night comes, your body knows it’s time to rest.

He also suggests limiting your caffeine doses so your body has at least 10 hours to eliminate all caffeine-fighting adenosine. Walker also advises if you have trouble sleeping stay away from naps.

Sleep in a cold room, not a hot one, because your body needs to drop its temperature by a few degrees to enter the sleep phase. Feeling warm at night may be the reason you don’t sleep well.

Walker recommends a wind-down routine before bedtime like reading a book, doing some stretching, taking a bath, meditating for 10 to 15 minutes, listening to narrations or letting someone tell you a story.

A great wind down method is to use a worry journal. Write down all your concerns or your to-do list. Do so as if you’re removing thoughts from your head and leaving them on paper.

These tips can help you sleep longer and better. Still, it’s vital to seek professional medical help if your sleep doesn’t improve. Never let poor sleep pile up until it’s too late. Remember, if you sleep better, you’ll live longer and healthier.

While most seniors face major adjustments when transitioning to an elder-care community, Jewish seniors face additional challenges. Not only do they lose their homes, and many of their friends, but they also lose ties to their cultural heritage. This is where the Jewish Pavilion, a 501c3 non-profit, steps in. The Pavilion serves as a resource that provides room visits, festive holiday celebrations, and more to 450 Jewish residents in fifty facilities for seniors. The Jewish Pavilion promotes inclusion, and thousands of seniors of all faiths are welcomed into our programs.

The Orlando Senior Help Desk (407-678-9363) helps thousands of callers navigate their way through the daunting senior maze, alleviating caregiver stress while giving advice on all types of elder issues.


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