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Health Fusion: Skimping on sleep makes you feel older, look older and can hurt your health

Who wants to feel and look older than they are? Likely nobody. In this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion," Viv Williams taps some new studies that all point to sleep as a key to keeping that from happening.

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Skimping on sleep can make you feel older
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ROCHESTER — How much sleep do you get each night? The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) says most adults need seven to nine hours and kids and teens need more. But in this day and age, many people simply don't sleep enough.

According to the NSF, insufficient sleep increases your risk of diseases including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and depression. And without enough sleep you may struggle with mood issues, in relationships, in school, work or be drowsy behind the wheel. And a study from Paris shows that even two nights of inadequate sleep can do a number on your skin and make you look tired.

Plus, sleep is the time when your body clears toxins out of your brain.

"If you wake up in the morning after a good night's sleep and feel like your brain is cleaned out, that's because it is," says Dr. Michael Howell, a sleep medicine specialist in the Department of Neurology at the University of Minnesota. "Your brain clears out toxins at night and if those toxins are not cleaned out, you are at a higher risk of going on and developing dementia, including Alzheimer's disease."

And if that's not enough to compel you to get the right amount of good quality shut eye, research in the journal Behavioral Sleep Medicine might do the trick. Researchers found that poor sleep in people over 50 is linked to more negative perceptions of aging, which can then cause problems for your mental, physical and cognitive health.

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The researchers found that the worse people rated their sleep, the older and less healthy they felt.

Participants in that study were able to make comments about their sleep. For example, some had pain that kept them awake. And others said how they felt during the day fluctuated wildly depending on how they slept. One day they felt younger and the other they felt older.

There are many reasons why people don't get enough sleep.

The NSF offers the following tips to help you improve your sleep habits.

  • Stay on schedule: Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
  • Make your bedroom a sleep sanctuary: Make your room dark, quiet and cool.
  • Keep healthy habits: Exercise daily and stop eating two to three hours before bedtime.

Follow the Health Fusion podcast on Apple , Spotify , and Google Podcasts.

For comments or other podcast episode ideas, email Viv Williams at vwilliams@newsmd.com . Or on Twitter/Instagram/FB @vivwilliamstv.

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Viv Williams hosts the NewsMD podcast and column, "Health Fusion." She is an Emmy (and other) award-winning health and medical reporter whose stories have run on TV, digital and newspaper outlets nationwide. Viv is passionate about boosting people's health and happiness by helping them access credible, reliable and research-based health information from top experts. She regularly interviews experts and patients from leading medical institutions, such as Mayo Clinic.
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