Seniors and Sleep

As people get older, they tend to have a harder time falling asleep, and more trouble staying asleep, than they did when they were younger. It’s a common misconception that sleep needs decline with age. In fact, research demonstrates that our sleep needs remain constant throughout adulthood.

So, what’s keeping seniors awake? Changes in the patterns of our sleep occur as we age, and this may contribute to sleep problems. Sleep occurs in multiple stages, includng dreamless periods of light and deep sleep and occasional periods of active dreaming (REM sleep). The sleep cycle is repeated several times during the night, and while total sleep time tends to remain constant, older people spend more time in the lighter stages of sleep than in deep sleep.

Talk with your doctor if you have insomnia symptoms and discuss any effects these symptoms may cause. Your doctor can help assess how serious a problem it is and what to do about it. In some cases, simply cutting back on caffeine and taking a shorter noon nap may help. More-serious cases of sleep disruption may require additional treatment.

Source: National Sleep Foundation