While aging is not fully understood, it can be broken down into two categories: intrinsic and extrinsic.
Intrinsic aging is due to genetic factors, while extrinsic aging can be attributed to lifestyle choices like alcohol consumption, smoking, diet, exercise and stress management.
As a longevity and regenerative medicine doctor, I help executives, athletes and celebrities biohack their bodies and improve their health through extrinsic factors.
Based on my experience, I’ve found that poor sleep quality is the No. 1 mistake that will make you age faster:
Why a lack of sleep speeds up aging
With our fast-paced lives, sleep is often sacrificed whether by choice or necessity. Mounting evidence shows that quality sleep is the key to a healthy life.
When we sleep, the body heals itself. Sleeping seven to eight hours a night helps improve cellular and tissue health, cognitive function, immunity, energy levels and metabolism.
Meanwhile, sleep deficiency can cause a variety of health issues, including high blood pressure, depression, obesity, stroke, diabetes and heart disease.
A lack of sleep can also cause:
1. Wrinkles and premature skin aging
Our skin is made up of several proteins, including collagen and elastin, that help keep it firm and plump as we age.
Some research suggests that insufficient sleep could affect the quality and strength of both collagen and elastin, which can lead to wrinkles and skin laxity, or sagging.
2. Cognitive impairment
In the short term, lack of sleep can cause a decline in motor skills, slow down information processing, reduce our attention spans and emotional capacity, and impair our judgement.
Over the long term, sleep issues can lead to a higher risk of cognitive decline, impaired memory and Alzheimer’s disease.
3. Weakened immunity
Our body’s first line of defense is our immune system.
During sleep, our immune system produces cells that help the body fight off pathogens that can make us sick. At the end of a sleep cycle, the cells migrate to parts of the body where they are needed.
Research shows that when our sleep is compromised, our body may not be able to fight off these invaders as effectively. Additionally, recovery times from illness may take longer.
Sleeping well is the No. 1 way to slow down aging
Many people don’t recognize the toll that lack of sleep has on our overall health. Luckily, there are simple lifestyle changes you can make to improve your quality of sleep:
- Be consistent. Having a consistent sleep schedule helps maintain a normal circadian rhythm.
- Expose yourself to the morning sun shortly after waking up. This resets the body’s circadian clock by showing the body it is morning, and it can help you fall asleep faster at night.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol. Avoid caffeine for eight hours before bedtime and alcohol for three hours before bedtime to protect your sleep quality.
- Limit screen time before bed. Blue light exposure from devices has been shown to adversely affect sleep.
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine. Getting into the habit of reading a book or taking a warm bath signals the body that it is time to wind down and sleep, making it easier to fall asleep.
- Make your bedroom a sanctuary. Invest in a good mattress, sheets, eye masks or whatever else helps you feel relaxed.
Neil Paulvin is a longevity and regenerative medicine doctor and host of the Life Optimized podcast. As a leading expert in biohacking and human optimization, Dr. Paulvin is recognized for his exceptional work applying a hyper-personal approach to help his patients — including Fortune 500 executives, Olympic athletes and A-list celebrities — optimize their health. Follow him on YouTube and Instagram.
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