Do you sleep more or less as you get older?
Sleep is widely considered one of the foundations of good health, and we’ve been repeatedly told the gold standard is a solid eight hours a night. But just as we know that children need far more than that, we’ve come to believe that older sleepers struggle to stay asleep, so must need fewer hours. But is it true?
Over 50s generally find it much more difficult to fall asleep, and stay asleep. A 2016 study of 62,000 people by RAND Europe showed that 56 to 70-year-olds reported sleeping the fewest hours of all age groups.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that people over 60 should be getting almost the same amount of sleep as those in their twenties. Specifically, 18 to 64-year-olds should be clocking up between 7 and 9 hours every night, and over 65s between 7 and 8.
But as people age they can have a hard time getting anywhere near that due to how their ‘sleep architecture’ has changed. Firstly, as we get older we spend more time in ‘light’ sleep, which provides different benefits from ‘deep’ sleep. Deep sleep is largely responsible for cell replacement, muscle building and organ cleansing. The second cause can be a shift in our circadian rhythms – also known as our body clocks. These rhythms are controlled by light, and as our sensitivity to light decreases with age, so does our body’s ability to decide when it’s time for bed.
What is your experience? Do you have trouble sleeping? Or has sleep always come easily to you? Have you found it more of a challenge to get to sleep and stay asleep since you reached your 50s? Does lack of sleep cause you anxiety? When did you last change your mattress?
What are your views?
We'd love to hear your comments
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