It’s often assumed that the elderly have different sleep needs than younger adults, but in truth, sleep needs don’t change in adulthood. At any age, those precious 7-9 hours per night are still what’s required to be rested and ready for the day.
But just because older adults need the same amount of sleep doesn’t mean that they don’t face unique challenges in getting it. A study by the National Sleep Foundation found that 44% of older people have symptoms of insomnia more than once per week.
As people age, their sleep patterns change. Deep sleep becomes less common, and the variety and severity of sleep interruptions often increases. In this guide, we’ll give background about age and sleep and will review the key tips and resources to help older adults get the shut-eye that they need.
Sleep Needs as You Age
As we progress from infancy to childhood and through adolescence and young adulthood, our sleep needs are regularly changing and evolving. At these earlier stages of development, there’s no doubt that these needs are markedly different than what’s required later in life.
However, it’s common for people to assume that these sleep needs continue to change during adulthood. Experts say, though, that getting 7-9 hours of sleep remains important for adults of any age. For all adults, sleep is vital to physical and cognitive function and plays a multifaceted role in our overall health.
The issue that older adults face is that with age it gets harder and harder to get high-quality sleep. One of the main reasons is that older people experience changes to what experts call sleep architecture. This relates to the sleep cycle and how much time we spend in a deep sleep. When older people sleep, they spend more time in light sleep that is not as restorative for the body and that is more easily interrupted.
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