Healthy people need less sleep as they age; seniors should not be sleepy in the daytime. | Home Care Assistance Healthy people need less sleep as they age; seniors should not be sleepy in the daytime. | Home Care Assistance
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Healthy people need less sleep as they age; seniors should not be sleepy in the daytime.

-Dr. Kathy Johnson, PhD, CMC

Healthy People need less sleep as they age, and seniors should not be sleepy in daytime.  The study from the Sleep journal says that Senior citizens slept about 20 minutes less than middle-aged adults, who slept 23 minutes less than young adults.

Healthy senior citizens without sleep disorders can have the reduced need to sleep during the day. With sleeping 8 hours a day at night, sleep time decreased as they age. However, the number of awakenings after time spent in deep sleep increased with age.

Healthy aging appears to be related to reductions in the sleep duration and depth is correlated to daytime alertness.  Principle investigator Derk-Jan Dijk, a PhD and professor of sleep and physiology of the University in the U.K. said, “Our findings reaffirm the theory that it is not normal for older people to be sleepy during the daytime. “Whether you are young or old, if you are sleepy during the day you either don’t get enough sleep or you may suffer from a sleep disorder.”

A  study was conducted at the Clinical Research Centre of the University of Surrey and involved 110 healthy adults without sleep disorders or sleep complaints;
?  44 were young (20 to 30 years),
?  35 were middle-aged (40 to 55 years) and
?  31 were older adults (66 to 83 years).

This study shows that when asked to fall asleep in a comfortable position on their bed, young adults fell asleep in about 8.7 minutes, compared to 11.7 minutes for middle-aged adults and 14.2 minutes for older adults.

The author also noted that the cause of the age-related reductions in slow-wave sleep and sleep need still must be established. Related factors could include alterations in reproductive hormones or changes in the brain.

According to the authors, the study also has implications for the treatment of insomnia in older adults, who may be unaware of their reduced sleep need. Therefore, sleep restriction, which leads to increased homeostatic sleep pressure, may be a successful behavioral therapy for insomnia in healthy older adults.

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