Regardless of age, sleep is vital for every human being. It is an interdisciplinary act that affects our physical and mental health. Studies have proven that it can impact our immunity and metabolism.

While it can look like dropping sleep isn’t this sort of massive deal, sleep deprivation has various adverse effects. Over time, the consequences of sleep deprivation can mount up, taking a toll on many extraordinary components of your body and mind. Sleep deprivation is associated with young children’s poor learning ability and eating habits. For adults, it can lead to serious health problems.

Older people need 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night to feel rested and alert. However, they often spend less time in deep sleep and tend to wake up more. It is also common for them to wake up an average of 3 to 4 times a night. In addition, most elderly wake up frequently during the night or early morning. Because of this, they often find it harder to fall asleep and spend more bedtime.

Changes in our hormones may cause alterations in our sleep-wake cycles. For example, elderlies produce less melatonin, a natural hormone that regulates sleep. Lifestyle habits and certain medications can also contribute to the changes in the sleep cycle of older adults.

If you are about to enter your golden years, you may experience these changes in your sleeping habits.

Extended Daytime Nap

We are familiar with power naps; perhaps we all love doing them during our worktime breaks. For older adults, though, power naps are noticeably prolonged. Is this because they spend the wee hours at night filming TikTok reels? Not. The most plausible explanation is that older people sleep less and wake up more often at night. As a result, many seniors compensate for their lost sleep by catching a refreshing nap in the morning.

Apart from catching missed sleep, there are medical reasons for extended daytime napping in seniors. Excessive daytime napping is one of the most common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. While this isn’t always the case, medical intervention is always a good option, especially if you feel that your daytime sleepiness is extreme.

Waking Up at Night

Aside from prolonged daytime sleep, seniors also experience loss of nighttime sleep. Many scientific studies have proven that older adults do not sleep compared to younger adults. Even more, seniors complain about insomnia.

As you age, you might experience more sleep disruptions. It could be due to continence problems. Pain-causing disorders such as heartburn or cancer also cause sleep disruptions. Additionally, neurological and psychological conditions may affect your sleep. Various studies to date have linked insomnia and depression.

Just like daytime napping, insomnia may be avoided or lessened. One of the practical ways to do it is by doing physical exercises and limiting your alcohol and caffeine intake. Also, talking to your doctor about your medications would help a lot. In most cases, drugs may affect your sleep cycle despite your age.

Changes in Sleep Schedule

Another evident change in how seniors sleep is the persistent alterations in their sleep schedule. As we grow older, our body’s circadian rhythms shift onwards. This shift is called phase advance. Those who experience this describe feeling tired and sleepy in the afternoon and waking up much earlier in the morning. Phase advance causes older adults to feel jet lag even after a long sleep.

To avoid such inconveniences, make an effort to sleep at the same time. Avoiding long naps in the afternoon will also help you sleep better. You may do this by setting a bedtime routine for yourself. Recommended activities that help naturally induce sleep include meditating, reading a book, and taking a warm bath.

Sleep as a Senior

If you are experiencing the following changes in your sleep cycle, be still and know that everyone sleeps differently. If you feel sleepier during the daytime than usual, a simple tweak to your nighttime routine might be just what you need. Some of the changes mentioned above might be challenging, but there must be something that could help you sleep more soundly than catching forty winks. Who knows? A great book filled with fun and laughter like Renee Servello’s “You’re Kidding… I’m a SENIOR?” is the only thing missing in your nighttime routine.

Sleeping as a senior might be a brand-new experience. However, if you think something is unusual about your sleeping habits, don’t hesitate to talk to your trusted physician.

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