Sleep is vital for everyone, regardless of their age. But we can experience Sleep Changes as We Age. Understanding those changes and learning what you can do to improve sleep as you get older will help you get quality sleep at any age. In this blog, we will discuss how sleep changes as we age and some sleep hygiene tips to improve the quality of your sleep.
Sleep Needs of Seniors: How Much Sleep Is Enough?
Some people think that seniors need less sleep than younger adults. While older people may need slightly less sleep than younger adults, it is not by much. According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep needs remain consistent throughout a person’s life.
Although individual sleep needs may vary, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend adults over age 65 get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep each night. While they suggest, adults age 18 to 64 get seven to nine hours of sleep nightly.
REM Sleep in Seniors
REM sleep, or rapid eye movement sleep, is a stage of sleep that is usually accompanied by dreaming. This stage of sleep is most prevalent in young adults and children, but it also occurs in seniors. REM sleep is important for consolidating memories and learning new information. It also helps to regulate moods and emotions. In seniors, REM sleep can help to improve cognitive function and memory. It also helps to boost their immune system and keep them healthy. In addition, REM or deep sleep can help to reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Why Does Sleep Change as We Age?
It is also common for seniors to develop a pattern of sleeping, referred to as advanced sleep phase syndrome. This pattern of sleeping involves going to bed early and waking up early.
Although our sleep needs to stay consistent as we age, our ability to sleep well often decreases. Several factors may contribute to a change in sleep in older adults. For example, as you age, you produce less growth hormone, which affects how much time you spend in a deep sleep. You may still sleep seven or eight hours a night, but less time is spent in a deep sleep.
Sleep also becomes more fragmented as we get older. Older adults tend to wake up more often and easier than younger adults. An increase in nighttime awakenings leads to a decrease in restorative sleep.
Insomnia is also common in older adults. According to research in the Handbook of Clinical Neurology, up to 40 to 50 percent of people over age 60 report disturbed sleep, including insomnia.
There are several reasons that sleep may change as we get older, including the following:
Medical conditions: Some older adults develop chronic medical conditions, such as arthritis, COPD, or heart problems. Medical conditions can cause symptoms that interfere with getting a goods night’s sleep.
Medication side effects: It is not uncommon for older adults to take medication for certain medical conditions. Some medications can lead to side effects that may interfere with sleep.
Sleep disorders: Although sleep disorders can occur at any age, some types of problems, such as apnea, are more common as we get older.
Sleep Hygiene Tips
It is still possible to get good sleep as you get older. There are several things you can do to improve your sleep, including the following:
- Keep a similar sleep schedule nightly: Try to go to bed and wake at the same time each night to help your body develop a rhythm.
- Treat pain: Pain can greatly affect your ability to sleep. Talk to your doctor about ways to decrease pain, such as medication, biofeedback, and massage.
- Exercise: Getting regular exercise improves overall well-being, and that includes sleep. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week.
- Create a good sleep environment: Make sure your bedroom is sleep-friendly. Keep it at a temperature that is comfortable for you and block out noise and sunlight.
- Limit napping: A nice long nap can feel good. But if you are napping too much, it can affect your ability to fall asleep at night. Try to keep naps to 30 minutes or less.
- Maintain sleep temperature: There is no definitive answer to this question since everyone’s body responds differently to different temperatures. However, it is generally recommended that older adults sleep in a cool room. The best sleeping temperature for seniors is between 66 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Finding ways to improve sleep will help you get the rest you need. Using multiple strategies above is your best bet. Remember quality sleep is an important part of healthy living for seniors. Please check out BoomersHub Blog’s Health & Fitness section for more tips on living well as you age.
Sleep changes as we age, and it’s important to be aware of these changes and make necessary adjustments to our sleep hygiene. Improving sleep hygiene for seniors can include a range of things, from maintaining a sleep schedule to reducing daytime napping to regular exercise.
We hope these tips will help you start creating better sleep habits that will benefit your overall health and quality of sleep as you grow older. Do you have any questions about how to adjust your sleep habits for aging? We would love to hear from you!
Frequently Asked Questions
Do seniors require less sleep?
The number of hours an individual needs to sleep varies from person to person, but in general, older adults require about the same amount as younger generations.
What is the best sleep aid for seniors?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best sleep aid for seniors may vary depending on the individual’s needs and preferences. One of the best sleep aids for seniors is Melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that helps to regulate sleep, and it is available in both pill and liquid form. Some other popular sleep aids for seniors include nonbenzodiazepine sedatives (e.g. zolpidem, ramelteon, etc.), or sound machines, and weighted blankets. Another option is chamomile tea, which can be helpful in promoting relaxation.
How much REM sleep do seniors need?
It is important to get at least 90 minutes of REM sleep for older adults which accounts for about 20-25 percent of the total duration on average. It helps improve their cognitive performance as well as physical strength.
Why do seniors sleep so much?
One reason is that as people age, they tend to spend more time sleeping because their bodies need more rest. Another reason is that some medications prescribed to seniors can make them drowsy. Additionally, many seniors experience health problems such as sleep apnea, cardiovascular problems, etc. that can interrupt their sleep cycles and cause them to oversleep.
Can a senior sleep only 5 hours?
It is generally recommended that seniors get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep per night. If you find that you are only able to sleep for 5 hours, it may be worth discussing this with your doctor, as it could be a sign of an underlying health issue.