We all like to think that with age, comes wisdom (usually). However, the fact is, there are other, less glamorous changes that manifest as the years go by. One of those being how we sleep. Sleep is a key part of living a healthy life for everyone. It helps our cells re-generate and allows our body to heal itself night after night. Unfortunately though, many individuals may notice shorter nights, increased frequency of waking up during the course of the night, and a harder time falling asleep as they get older.
According to a national poll as reported by the National Sleep Foundation, 24% of those ages 65-84 are diagnosed with four or more medical conditions. Of this group, 80% reported having some type of sleep problem. Also, the older age group were found to have more consistent sleep patterns both during the week and weekend. If seniors get more consistent sleep than younger adults, then why do we see such prevalent issues with sleep for this age group?
While a single answer as to why seniors suffer from increased sleep issues isn’t clear yet, research suggests a few different possibilities. Sleep disturbance as we age may be attributed to physical and psychiatric age-related illnesses and the medications used to treat those illnesses. Other theories have to do with the circadian rhythms that affect our sleep cycles and coordinate the timing of our bodily functions. Older adults tend to feel sleepier earlier in the evening and wake earlier in the morning compared to younger adults.
If you've found yourself falling into the category of someone who isn't getting as much quality sleep as you used to, not all hope is lost. WebMD has some excellent suggestions for those of you looking for new ways to catch that much needed shut-eye!