Sleep – essential for wellbeing
Getting enough good quality sleep plays an essential role in your health and wellbeing throughout your life.
While you sleep, important mental and physical processes are carried out. Regular, good quality sleep is important for brain functioning, emotional wellbeing, physical health, daytime performance and personal safety. The amount of sleep needed varies by person and age, however for most adults, about 7–9 hours is recommended in order to be well rested.
The importance of melatonin for good sleep
Melatonin is an important hormone produced by your body, which plays a key role in regulating your body’s natural circadian rhythms (your 24-hour body clock). It is responsible for regulating the time you go to sleep as well as when you wake up in the morning. Your melatonin level usually rises as it gets dark, causing you to feel sleepy, and it continues to be released gradually throughout the night.
Melatonin is important for good sleep, but as you age, your body tends to produce less of it, which can lead to difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep and poor sleep quality.
What is insomnia?
Insomnia is a common sleep disorder which can affect how much sleep you get and the quality of that sleep.
If you have insomnia, you may experience:
- difficulty getting to, or falling asleep
- difficulty staying asleep (poor sleep quality)
- waking up too early
Insomnia is common in people 55 years and older and the severity increases as we age. Insomnia can significantly affect your wellbeing and can lead to many unfavourable consequences such as fatigue, difficulty remembering things, increased risk of falls and impaired quality of life.
Over a period of months or years, insomnia can also affect your mental wellbeing and health. It can increase your risk of conditions such as anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.