Your Sleep Needs Change With Age

old man sleeping

This is a guest post by Brandon Travis.

As you get older, things will change and this includes how well you sleep. It is important to know what to expect and how to best deal with these changes. There are ways to cope and ensure that you are getting the sleep that you need.

Aging Changes Sleep Patterns

As you get older, your sleep patterns will change. For example, as a young adult you could pretty easily sleep eight or more hours at night, but as you age, you start sleeping just six to seven hours a night. You may also notice that you cannot nod off as quickly as you used to. Aging can cause some insomnia to occur.

You may become a “light sleeper” and feel like you just went to bed when you abruptly awaken. You may also wake multiple times throughout the night for no particular reason. When you wake up like this, it is due to you not getting into that deeper stage of sleep. Then, there are times when you will wake up to urinate. This is just something that happens with age and most people will experience it.

Many things contribute to sleep issues with aging. These can include hormonal changes, health conditions, lifestyle changes, getting less sunlight and medications.

Effects of Sleep Pattern Changes

While sleeping issues can have a negative impact on your day, they are not usually dangerous. This does not mean that you should not seek help, however.

asleep on a bench

You will probably notice that as you age, you are more tired during the day. While things like activity level and diet do play a role, sleep is one of the biggest contributors to feeling tired all day. When you wake up many times during the night, you lose at least an hour or two of sleep and you may not even get any of that important deep stage sleep. This will result in your brain and body just not getting the restorative sleep it needs to function with energy.

You may also experience confusion and other mental changes, such as lack of focus and poor memory. When we are not resting our brains enough via good sleep, this is pretty much inevitable. The good news is that once you get back to getting decent sleep, these issues will alleviate. So, if you are not sleeping well and are having cognitive issues, definitely head to your doctor to see what you can do to improve the quality of your sleep.

The Importance of Getting the Right Sleep

There are dozens of reasons to get good sleep, but there are six primary things that can be helped by getting good sleep every night. These include:

  1. Maintaining a healthy weight
  2. Positive mood
  3. Better cardiovascular health
  4. Improved ability to learn and remember things
  5. Increased safety because you will be less tired during the day
  6. Better chance at fighting against illness

Adults need a minimum of 7.5 hours of sleep per night and this is the absolute minimum. However, it is recommended that adults get eight to nine hours sleep to ensure that they are restored and well-rested. If you are not getting at least eight hours, you are most likely sleep deprived and putting yourself at risk for a variety of issues.

One of the biggest signs of sleep deprivation is needing an alarm to get up in the morning. When we have good sleep patterns, our bodies will automatically be ready for sleep at a certain time and will wake up at a certain time. Alarm clocks are great, but they should not be necessary when we are well-rested. If you easily fall asleep during the day, such as while watching television or reading, you are likely not getting restorative sleep at night.

Sleep is critical for you to be able to deal with the things life throws at you, such as stress, driving, solving problems, remembering things, staying healthy and just about everything else we need to do every day.

Author Bio: Brandon Travis likes to spend his free time swimming and training for his next triathlon. When he’s not working out, he likes to study sleep issues and review sites like iRollover.

Image Credits: courtesy of morgueFile

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