One easy way to prepare for retirement—sleep on it

Closeup of alarm clock with senior woman in deep sleep at home. Old woman sleeping in bed next to alarm clock in morning. Elderly woman sleeping in bedroom peacefully.

Image: Rido81/

Your best retirement will come if you enter it in your peak condition. Sleeping is something you can work on now to help make that happen.

Negative impacts of sleep loss

All of us will go through periods of poor sleep, so we understand some of the impacts already. That wasted feeling. The lack of energy. Being unable to focus.

It used to be that lack of sleep ‘for the cause’ (work or whatever) was celebrated. Those who did the all-nighters were considered heroes. That time seems to be passing because of the now-known health consequences.

Shelly Ibach from Sleep Number says, ‘Study after study has shown us the undeniable correlation between sleep quality and our well-being.

‘Poor sleep is associated with increased rates of nearly every known illness and medical condition, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, depression and anxiety, to name just a few.’

That’s quite a list of problems no one wants.

Then there’s a Rand report that places a dollar figure on the cost of lack of sleep in five nations: Canada; United States; United Kingdom; Germany; and Japan: $US 580 billion. It isn’t good for business.

Sleep creates a good brain drain

There has been some fascinating research about how sleep flushes out cellular waste from the brain—and may even be a preventative for Alzheimer’s. One report on recent research (on the brains of mice) found that, during sleep, ‘cellular waste was flushed out via the brain’s blood vessels into the body’s circulation system and eventually the liver.’

Importantly, ‘these waste products included amyloid beta, a protein that, when accumulated, is a driver of Alzheimer’s disease.’

‘These findings have significant implications for treating “dirty brain” disease like Alzheimer’s,’ said Maiken Nedergaard from New York’s University of Rochester Medical Center and leader of this research.

Sleep is important! Nedergaard puts it this way: ‘The brain only has limited energy at its disposal. You can think of it like having a house party. You can either entertain the guests or clean up the house, but you can’t really do both at the same time.

Sleep is needed to clean up the brain.

Can’t sleep?

If you’re having difficulty getting to sleep, the National Sleep Foundation suggests the following:

  • Have at least a 30-minute wind-down time before bed when you do something relaxing, such as read a book. Dim the lights in the house slightly for an hour or so before bed.
  • Disconnect from close-range electronic devices such as laptops, phones and tablets. The light from their screens can alert the brain and make it harder to fall asleep.
  • In order to calm your mind, do a breathing or relaxation exercise.
  • If you get into bed and can’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, get up and go to another space in the house to do a relaxing activity, such as reading or listening to music. Lying in bed awake can create an unhealthy link between your sleeping environment and wakefulness. Instead, you want your bed to conjure sleepy thoughts and feelings only.
  • Wake up at the same time every day. Even if you have a hard time falling asleep and feel tired in the morning, try to get up at the same time (weekends included). This can help adjust your body’s clock and aid in falling asleep at night.

Sleep is needed for health. Good sleep—refreshing sleep—is a key to good health. Good health is the desired outcome as you prepare for retirement.

Bruce Manners: the author of Retirement Ready?, Refusing to Retire, and founder of

Category: Brain Health, Emotional Health, Lifestyle, Physical Health

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