A recent survey of more than 150,000 randomly selected adults suggests that apart from a dip in when one hits 40s, the quality of sleep, like wine gets better with age. Apparently it’s the 80 year olds who sleep like babies. One of the researchers said that while ailments and stress do play a part, the notion that older people are light sleepers is completely wrong. Now universities are equipped to measure sleep duration and disturbance but it hardly matches the volunteer’s own opinion of their sleep patterns.
A recently released study in the journal Sleep reports of poor sleep were associated with health problems and depression, and women said they had more sleep disturbances and were more tired than men. The quality of sleep improved throughout the life span, although there was a small increase in sleep difficulties during middle age.
There are some indications that older people are enjoying less sleeping time in the slow-wave sleep mode, which is usually associated with “Good Sleep”. While seniors may getting the same amount of sleep, they possibly are not enjoying it as much if missing the deep sleep cycle.
As people get older, they tend to lower their standards of what it means to be healthy. So it could be that these seniors simply have a rosier opinion of their sleep patterns than other, more objective measures suggest. For example, in 2004 a large meta-analysis of people aged 5 to 102 years found that overall sleep time drops with age , by about 10 minutes per decade. So when you see grandma taking a nap, let her sleep. She might wake up feeling refreshed-or, at least, content.
Health conditions can interfere with sleep. As we age, we are more likely to develop a chronic illness. These illnesses result in changes in our body that interfere with normal sleep. By managing your health condition well, you can minimize this effect. Examples of how some illnesses interfere with sleep are: Arthritis can cause pain, which makes it difficult to fall asleep.
Diabetes or an enlarged prostate may cause you to use the bathroom frequently during the night, which interrupts deep sleep.
As we age, it is more likely that we are taking one or more medications. These medications can often interfere with sleep. Your doctor may be able to change your medication to one that doesn’t cause you to lose sleep, or possibly change the time of day you take that medication. Some common medications that are known to interfere with sleep include: some high blood pressure medications, antidepressants, steroids, some decongestants and bronchodilators.
As we get older we all gradually reduce our activities. Resuming an exercise program and eating healthy foods may be all that is required to jump start our body to start enjoying better sleep and feeling more alive. Always consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program or changing your diet.