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Aging and Sleep – Effects of Age on Sleep


Falling asleep may become harder for many people as they grow older. During the night or early in the morning, older people find themselves waking up many times compared to younger people. This significantly reduces sleep time and sleep quality, leading to sleep disorders and other health concerns.

Related Blog: Waking Up On The Wrong Side Of The Bed Or Just On The Wrong Mattress?

How Does Aging Affect Your Sleep?

Humans have an internal clock called the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus, which is part of the brain made up of about 20,000 cells, forms the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), which forms the master clock. As people get older, changes to the body's internal clock start to occur. A circadian rhythm is a 24-hour daily cycle controlled by suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) and is responsible for influencing daily cycles such as:

  • When to eat
  • When hormones are released by the body
  • When to fall asleep

Aging has a tremendous effect on SCN. Therefore, older people's circadian rhythms are disrupted as their SCN deteriorates. This has a direct effect on when people feel alert or tired.

Does Aging Cause Bad Sleep?

Healthy older people from the age of 65 years and above need to sleep for 7-8 hours every night to have a proper rest. But changes to sleep patterns due to age affect the sleep cycle and can lead to insomnia.

Aging causes bad sleep for many people. There are several reasons why older people have less sleep or interrupted sleep during the night including:

  • Daytime napping
  • Altered sleep schedule `
  • Waking up at night more times
  • Waking up early

What Helps Seniors Sleep Better?

Despite the changes in the sleep patterns for older people, a better sleep pattern can be achieved. There are certain routines that aging people can practice to help them sleep better. If you have been battling insomnia or any other sleep disorder, you can take a few steps to help improve your quality of sleep.

  • Cultivate fixed going-to-bed and wake-up time every day, including weekends
  • Avoid watching TV or eating in bed. Instead, use the bedroom for sleep only
  • Avoid napping for more than 20 minutes during the day
  • Avoid caffeine eight hours before going to bed
  • If sleep does not come after trying for 30 minutes, get up and go to a different room.

Can Aging Cause Insomnia?

Insomnia is prevalent during old age. Many people mistake sleep disorders with simply aging, while indeed it is insomnia. Insomnia is the number one cause of sleep disorder in old people. Many older people suffer from insomnia as a result of physiological aging changes, chronic medical illnesses, and environmental conditions. Impaired concentration, memory loss, and impaired performance in body functions cause sleep disorders.

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The American Journal of Medicine defines insomnia as "the subjective report of insufficient or nonrestorative sleep despite adequate opportunity to sleep." More than 50% of people aged 65 years and above suffer from insomnia. During the day, many older people find it difficult to stay awake, and as a result, daytime naps increase both in duration and frequency.

When daytime napping occurs more frequently, the sleep-wake cycle may be reversed. Insomnia patients may sometimes report day-night reversal during which a patient does not sleep until dawn and proceeds to sleep until mid-afternoon.

We Can Help

Sleeping soundly is a right that should be accorded to every person and more so for older people. Despite the medical challenges affecting sleep, investing in a good mattress and bedding can help a person sleep better. For one to fall asleep, a relaxing mattress plays a significant role and knowing what kind of mattress suits your needs is an advantage. At Land of Sleep, we can assist you in identifying the correct mattresses and bedding that will suit your needs. Contact us now for more information.

Guide to a Better Nights Sleep

Tags: Sleep, healthy sleep, good day's sleep, healthy lifestyle