How Much Sleep Do You Need As You Get Older?

Posted by Manya . . July 21, 2017 -
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I love my sleep and the more hours of sleep I can get, the happier I get! So, naturally I wondered if sleep requirement changes as we age and I got on to the internet to begin my research on how much sleep do we really need as we get older. Here’s a result of my findings… do tell me if any of these are true in your case?

The good news is seniors don’t need as much sleep as younger people do. However, they tend to be more sleep deprived due to various reasons. Apparently insomnia is more common for seniors, either due to health issues, sleep disturbances, anxiety and concerns of aging, or due to medication. Sleep typically comes in breaks through the day rather than a long stretch at night so you might not feel well rested.

So, I set out to look at how we can work towards getting the right amount of sleep and good rest as we age. Before I get to that, let me list the most common symptoms of sleep disorders in seniors.

The foremost is if you find yourself having trouble falling asleep;

Another sign of a sleep disorder is when you realize that you wake up very early in the morning;

If you are unable to tell night from day, that is another telltale sign of sleep disorder;

And finally, if you notice yourself waking up frequently at night, you might be suffering from a sleep disorder.

Since medication is one of the common reasons for sleep disorders, I think it best to list those out and rule them out first. Health issues that prevent seniors from getting that much required undisturbed sleep at night include side effects of prescription medications; chronic pain, often from health conditions like arthritis; depression; consumption of alcohol; sedentary lifestyle where there’s not enough exercise; snoring or sleep apnea; Alzheimer’s disease or a neurological problem; increased caffeine intake; and decreased bladder control resulting in frequent urination at night.

Apparently it is also possible that biological changes in seniors can contribute to sleep disorders… And the theory on that is the hormone melatonin that usually helps people sleep is produced and released less by seniors. Insomnia in seniors is also often linked to either medical or psychological problems. It is important to stay aware of the body and mind as we age in order to first rule out these conditions for sleep disorders.

Here are some suggestions I found that could help battle sleep disorders and get that well deserved full night’s rest!

  1. Firstly, rule out any medical problems I spoke about earlier including depression, arthritis and others and seek medical attention to get them under control.
  2. Get in to bed at bedtime and if you find yourself still awake after 20 minutes, get out of bed. Try doing something relaxing instead such as reading, listening to soft music or taking a hot bath.
  3. Make conscious lifestyle changes including cutting out on caffeine intake (especially post noon), avoid eating a heavy meal before bedtime (instead have a light dinner at least a couple of hours before bedtime instead) and begin exercising (remember to exercise before noon and not in the evenings or just before bedtime).
  4. In order to sleep well, you need to sleep on time and in order to sleep on time you must start by waking up on time. Consciously skip afternoon naps, even if it is tough for the first couple of days or more.
  5. You don’t need to accept tiredness caused by lack of sleep as a part of aging, seek the help of your doctor if you still are unable to sleep well after trying these tips.

Like always, I would like to end this article by welcoming you to share your thoughts and experience in ensuring you always get a good night’s rest.  Please share your thoughts as well as experience on this as a comment here or reach out to us over Whatsapp or email at +919900050893 & jiyodilse@samsaraliving.com. You can also join our exclusive members only community for seniors here to start a conversation on this – www.facebook.com/groups/SamsaraLivingCommunity

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Manya . July 21, 2017

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