Why Worry About Sleep And Aging?
Do we even need to worry about the connection between aging and sleeping? Melinda Smith, Lawrence Robinson, and Robert Segal answer this question in their article titled Sleep Tips for Older Adults.
Smith and colleagues say that it’s vital for us to look at issues linked to sleep and aging because “A good night’s sleep helps improve concentration and memory formation, allows your body to repair any cell damage that occurred during the day, and refreshes your immune system, which in turn helps to prevent disease.” They add that those older adults who don’t get a good night’s sleep“are more likely to suffer from depression, attention and memory problems, excessive daytime sleepiness, and experience more nighttime falls.”
It is a well-known fact that lack of sleep can have adverse effects. According to the National Institute on aging, those seniors who don’t get enough sleep may:
- Feel depressed
- Easily irritated
- Be forgetful or have other memory problems
- Have a higher risk of accidents and falls
The Connection Between Sleep And Aging
Many older adults note that they find it more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep than when they were young. This implies that as people get older, they turn into light sleepers that wake up several times per night. This is often why older adults may spend more time in bed and still be facing the challenge of insufficient sleep.
An older adult is not getting sufficient sleep if they are not getting between seven and nine hours of sleep a night.
In a paper published by the Journal of General and family medicine, medical doctors Keisuke Suzuki, Masayuki Miyamoto, and Koichi Hirata agree that as people grow older, sleep-related changes become apparent. The same authors say that these changes include lower levels of slow-wave sleep, which leads to fragmented sleep and early waking.
An article written by Caroline J. Lavoie, Michelle R. Zeidler,and JenniferL. Martin, and published in the Sleep Science and Practice (SSP)Journal, says that non-disease-related sleep changes from the normal aging process.
Lavoie and colleagues also note that total sleep time generally decreases until the age of 60, when it starts to stabilize. They credit this to “a combination of physiological changes in sleep, changes in sleep-related habits, and increased rates of sleep disorders.”