Bad News — Sleeping Poorly Is Making You Feel Much Older Than You Are

Apparently, the secret to feeling young is sleeping well.

If you’ve been putting off fixing your sleep habits, this might be exactly the thing that kicks you into gear.

While we know that poor sleep can impact our health, moods, and even our chances of developing dementia, new research suggests that just a few bad nights of sleep can make you feel years older than you are.

The research by Stockholm University, published last week in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, found that the way that we sleep drastically impacts the age that we feel.

Meaning that if you consistently sleep well, you likely will feel a lot younger than you are.

Why sleep impacts how old we feel

Leonie Balter, a psychoneuroimmunologist at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and a co-author of the study, said to The Guardian: “Sleep has a major impact on how old you feel, and it’s not only your long-term sleep patterns. Even when you only sleep less for two nights, that has a real impact on how you feel.”

This feeling is called “subjective age” and it’s more than just feeling a little groggier and slower in the morning.

How old we feel can have an impact on our health and lifespan, according to studies, and can lead us to feeling more tired throughout the day and reaching for unhealthy foods.

While the researchers admit that there is more to learn about how this impacts us over cumulative months and years, it really does highlight just how essential good sleep hygiene is.

How to improve your sleep hygiene

Getting into the habit of practising good sleep hygiene can take some work but it is worth the benefits that it brings. The mental health experts at Headspace recommend:

  • Set a consistent sleep schedule
  • Creating a relaxing bedtime/pre-bedtime routine
  • Keep your bedroom cool and comfortable
  • Dim the lights in the home once it’s dark outside
  • Stop using your phone and screens in the hour before you go to bed
  • Steer clear of coffee and chocolate six hours before bedtime
  • Avoid sleep-disrupting foods such as citrus fruits, spicy food, fatty or fried food
  • Don’t drink alcohol before bed
  • Ensure that you get regular exercise
  • Only use your bed for sleep and sex