It was never clear to me, that as you get older, you should be getting more or less sleep.  Are current world conditions enough to steal away your sleep, yes of course. Fundamentally more sleep is better and especially more deep sleep.  Maybe those disturbing dreams are not so bad as they are helping you work out your daytime worries. 

Looking at sleep patterns from the perspective of healthy aging, solid sleep is an important deterrent to memory loss.  Months ago I had written a blog,  http://waystostay.org/going-over-to-the-dark-side/  after reading some of the newer research on sleep.  On a personal level it had prompted me to  disconnected some of the light emitting items in the bedroom put my cell in a drawer at night.  It helped me move to a more solid night sleep. Since then the wellness focus continues and more gadgets, things to wear and sleep measuring apps are being popping up  like mushrooms in a dark cave for everyone’s use.  

I have not referred to anything in the AARP Bulletin since I started my blog two years ago.  But I will refer you  to the December 2017 issue online if you missed it.   The fact that they actually titled a page  Avoid Alzheimer’s, is rather ominous.  In still yet another issue : http://Brain clean up by sleep : https://www.aarp.org/health/brain-health/info-2017/sleep-brain-health-memory.html they get even more specific about the  cleaning process your brain needs. Think of it as the nightly maintenance crew for your working brain.  If you miss too many days (nights) of emptying out the trash, you can not work in there anymore.  I know that is an over simple analogy but if you miss too many solid nights of sleep there are consequences.

A more vivid explanation of how your glymphatic system sweeps waste after hours, when the activity of the day is done comes from Brian R. Christie, a neuroscience professor at the University of Victoria in British Columbia.  He explains, “Your glial cells (which surround and support brain neurons) control the glymphatic flow by shrinking when you sleep. The space between your cells increases by up to 60 percent. This expansion allows more fluid to be pumped through and drives the clearance of waste from the brain.”  

While you are keeping to the basics of maintaining your blood pressure, getting regular exercise and eating a diet rich in vegetables, healthy fats and antioxidants, it all should add up to a positive impact on brain cleaning. Do not hesitate to guard your sleep.  You do not have to go out and buy a  monitoring device, but you can try it.  You do not have to go out and buy one of those  expensive miracle mattresses, yet many people have found them worth the investment.  I would think your physician would not prescribe any pharmaceuticals at our age since one of the side effects can be memory loss symptoms.  Google the term, natural sleep aids, and it can tell you as much what to avoid as what to use.   

So think of your glial cells as fuzzy warm sheep jumping over that imaginary fence and sleep tight.