There are people who believe that the elderly are satisfied with a few hours of sleep. In fact, this is simply an urban legend. All adults need at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep. What happens with age is that it is more difficult for a person to sleep properly. But that does not mean that sleep needs change. One of the challenges of healthy aging is ensuring enough hours of sleep.
How sleep changes in the elderly
For a variety of reasons, the elderly have difficulty sleeping. They need more time to sleep, wake up three to four times a night, urinate a lot, tend to go to bed early in the evening and wake up just as early.
Why seniors sleep less
The body changes with age and these changes affect the quality and duration of sleep. Many factors can play a role in the latter.
The brain of the elderly produces less melatonin, which is the sleep hormone while growth hormone is secreted at lower levels. This hormone is why children sleep so well. In women, menopause can also play a role, the symptoms of which interfere with sleep.
Diseases and their symptoms directly affect sleep. For example, arthritis causes pain that prevents sleep. Diabetes can trigger the need to urinate more often at night. Heart disease can cause immediate awakening at night due to difficulty breathing. Mental illnesses associated with anxiety tend to interfere with sleep quality.
Older people do less physical activity and spend less time in the sun. Sunlight is needed for the production of melatonin which regulates sleep cycles. Seniors should spend at least 2 hours of sun exposure. Consumption of alcohol, caffeine and cigarettes causes chaos in the quality of sleep and should not be consumed at least 3 hours before bedtime. Medications such as blood pressure, anti-depressant, and others also interfere with sleep quality.