About 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep problems, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sleep deprivation is associated with injuries, weight gain, chronic diseases, and just plain crankiness. Sleep apnea, a disorder the prevalence of which increases with age, is a risk factor for heart disease. What’s more, recent research suggests that sleep plays a vital role in cleaning out potentially toxic waste from our brains that, if left to accumulate, may contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.
Yet as important as it is, good sleep can become harder to achieve as we get older. Certain measures of sleep quality begin to deteriorate very gradually starting as early as age 19, according to Dr. Anda Baharav, founder and chief scientist of SleepRate, a company that recently launched an app-based sleep improvement plan based on cognitive behavioral therapy, a standard treatment for insomnia.