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Sleep Deprivation Linked To Age-Related Brain Changes

04/10/2017 11:24 EDT | Updated 04/10/2017 11:24 EDT

Sleeping for hours on end was never an issue when you were a teen, but you may have noticed that a good night's rest is harder to come by as you get older.

Don't worry — it's not just you.

Researchers from the University of California at Berkeley say that as we get older, changes in our brain mechanisms prevent us from sleeping as well as we used to.

The new study, published in the journal Neuron, suggests that starting in our late 20s, our brains have a harder time determining when we are tired.

The researchers believe that as we age so too do the neuronal connections in our brains. “It’s almost like a radio antenna that’s weak,” Matthew Walker, the study's co-author, told Popular Science. “The signal is there, but the antenna just can’t pick it up.”

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Though the decline isn't steep, Walker says by the time a person hits the age of 50 they lose 50 per cent of the deep sleep they used to get in their 20s. And by the age of 70, people get little to no high-quality deep sleep. “It’s probably one of the most dramatic physiological changes that happen with aging,” Walker said.

And that's not even the worst of the bad news — according to Walker, there's not much you can do to stop the process. Instead, he suggests making small habitual changes like avoiding caffeine in the early afternoon, sleeping in a colder room, and exercising at least three hours before you're ready to go to sleep.

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