If there’s one piece of anti-aging advice that experts will agree on, especially when it comes to anti-aging and the brain, it’s the power of sleep. Many adults underestimate how much their sleeping patterns can impact not only daily functioning, but also long-term cognitive function.
Proof that sleep is essential anti-aging advice was clearly shown in a 2014 scientific study, which found a significant link between sleep loss and cognitive function. Sleep affects anti-aging and the brain because, according to the study’s findings, sleeping for fewer hours leads to evidence of faster brain ventricle enlargement, which is a common marker for cognitive decline and even the development of degenerative neurological conditions, like dementia.
Considering this evidence for sleep in relation to anti-aging and the brain, it’s clear that getting more sleep can increase your chances of aging well. Unfortunately for a lot of older adults, sleep patterns can change over time—you may find that you can no longer stay in bed as long as you used to, which can be the result of a wide array of factors, from new medications to changing hormone levels.
That being said, getting enough sleep is still critical anti-aging advice. The good news is there are plenty of techniques that can help. One of them is meditation. According to a new study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, participating in mindfulness meditation (learning to pay close attention to your physical and mental feelings at every moment) can improve sleep, which can in turn help with anti-aging and the brain.
The participants, all aged 55 and older with sleep issues, were randomly divided into two groups—one half completed a mindful meditation program, while the other half participated in an educational program to learn about effective sleep habits. After six weeks, the meditating group’s sleep score increased by 2.8 points, whereas the other group only improved by 1.1 points. The meditators also reported more improvements in insomnia, fatigue, and even symptoms of depression.
This study goes to show that you don’t need to rely on dangerous sleeping pills or psychotherapy to fall asleep—the solution can be as simple as meditating for a few minutes before bed. Meditating also makes for good anti-aging advice, because it comes with a long list of other health benefits. Click here to read more about how this simple practice can help to ensure you’re aging well in all aspects of life.
If you’re interested in trying mindfulness meditation, you may want to start by connecting with an instructor, who can guide you through the correct practices—ensuring you’re doing it properly will help you get the most out of this anti-aging advice. The basic technique usually involves sitting upright and cross-legged on a cushion, focusing on your natural breathing, and concentrating on the thoughts running through your head. The idea is not to block these thoughts, but to become aware of your wandering mind and be able to return to the meditation state. With practice, it will become easier to focus on your breathing and you’ll notice that your mind won’t wander as much.
Chee, M., “Short Sleep, Aging Brain,” Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore web site, July 1, 2014; https://www.duke-nus.edu.sg/news/short-sleep-aging-brain.
Rettner, R., “Mindfulness Meditation May Help Older Adults Sleep Better,” Live Science web site, February 16, 2015; http://www.livescience.com/49828-mindfulness-meditation-sleep-older-adults.html.
Wegela, K.K., “How to Practice Mindfulness Meditation,” Psychology Today web site, January 19, 2010; https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-courage-be-present/201001/how-practice-mindfulness-meditation.