For years, studies have linked lack of sleep with poorer cognitive performance. Now there's another good reason to get enough shut-eye: Just one bad night's sleep can make older adults age faster.
Indeed, an American Academy Of Sleep Medicine study found that lack of sleep directly impacts the etiology -- or causes -- of biological aging. The findings further support the hypothesis that sleep deprivation -- because it boosts the molecular processes involved in growing older -- may be connected to a greater risk of disease.
"Our data support the hypothesis that one night of not getting enough sleep in older adults activates important biological pathways that promote biological aging," said lead author Dr. Judith Carroll at the UCLA Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology in Los Angeles in a written release.
The researchers studied 29 adults between the ages of 61 and 86 over a four-night period. Not only was sleep quality analyzed, but blood samples also were taken each morning to assess gene expression. The results showed that a single night of sleep troubles activated gene patterns consistent with faster aging.
The research was published online in the journal Sleep.
Carroll's study adds to a body of research that has also linked lack of sleep with faster aging . A 2013 study, for example, found that those who didn't sleep well exhibited more signs of fine lines, uneven pigmentation and reduced skin elasticity.
The amount of sleep one needs depends on a person's age. Most experts recommend that adults get between seven and eight hours of sleep per night.
Okay. Now go get some shut-eye!