Seniors and Sleep: How Much Sleep Do Older Adults Need?
Many things change as we get older. Something that we don’t necessarily expect to change is how we sleep. In fact, 46% of adults 65 and older have trouble falling asleep and sleeping well through the night on a regular basis. Adults over the age of 65 should be getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night. But getting quality sleep at night can be difficult for seniors.
As we age, our bodies make less of the chemicals and hormones that help us sleep well.
Some seniors develop sensitivity to environmental factors affecting sleep, including noise and temperature.
The parts of the brain that control sleep are affected by conditions such as Parkinson's disease or stroke.
Arthritis and other conditions can also play a role in sleep quality due to chronic pain.
In addition, seniors may fall asleep earlier than usual, wake up in the middle of the night, or suffer from insomnia – all of which can negatively impact the quality of daily life. In addition to affecting mood, lack of sleep can lead to issues with memory and an increased risk of falling.
Inadequate rest affects mood– Not getting a full night of sleep can cause irritability, stress, problems with concentration, and mood swings. Long-term sleep deprivation can lead to cognitive issues and depression.
When seniors don’t sleep, their bodies suffer– Headaches, body aches, and weakness can sometimes be attributed to lack of sleep.
Being tired can contribute to illness - When tired, an older adult’s immune system doesn’t perform as well, opening the door to illness and infection. Some studies have shown that lack of sleep can lead to heart problems, diabetes and it has even been associated with an increase in risk of breast cancer.
Seniors that are having a hard time sleeping can get help from their doctor. However, there are a few things they can try at home to help ensure a restful night’s sleep: