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Sleep changes as we age

20-09-2012

It will come as no surprise to many that as you get older the way you sleep, when you sleep and how much you sleep will change.

While much is known about the changing sleep habits of infants and children less work had been done on elderly sleeping habits until more recently.

Recent research has shown that even in the most healthy and fit elderly people, there sleep habits will change. Sleep tends to become less deep as we age, with less time spent in the deeper cycles of sleep and more time in the lighter cycles. Sleep also becomes shorter as we grow older, with people over the age of 65 sleeping about half an hour less than younger people.

Elderly people will also wake more in the night, with most elderly people only sleeping for about 85 percent of the total time spent in bed. While often this is related to a weakening bladder it is also because they are lighter sleepers and are more easily woken by external disturbances. It is also harder for elderly people to fall asleep at night, with many people experiencing their first cases of insomnia after they reach around 65.

These are all natural aspects of ageing, though they will often be exacerbated by declining health.


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