Do we need less sleep as we get older?

Megan Lynn Mullins, feature writer

It is very common for people as they age to complain about trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. There is said to be a third of adults suffering from some form of insomnia. The two main difficulties are falling asleep at the start of the night and then waking up early in the morning and not being able to fall back asleep. Some adults experience physical symptoms that proves they have an actual sleeping disorder but others sleep still eludes them without the signs of physical symptoms. But a large lack of sleep can have a grave impact on an individual’s health and wellbeing.
It is hard to determine whether or not people require less sleep as they age. You can measure how much people sleep during the night but it is extremely difficult to understand how much sleep people require due to their age. One theory on why older people get less sleep is the fact that they have the opportunity to sleep more during the day that is why doctors do not tend to take insomnia in the retired very seriously. One other theory is that aging disrupts the circadian rhythms causing the elderly or aging to wake up earlier and retire to bed at an earlier time at night.
They have held many studies in order to research this topic. One study was help at Brigham Women’s hospital, they took two age groups 60-72 and 18-32. They gave them the option to sleep for 16 hours a day for multiply days. The results were that the older age group slept an average of 7.5 hours while the younger age group slept an average of 9 hours. These results could be interrupted in a few ways. One way being that in fact the elderly are in need of less sleep than the younger test subjects. Also this study does not rule out the possibility that older people sleep less due to their circadian rhythms. It is still left a mystery as to why older people sleep less but what they do know is that insomnia can cause other serious health problems and should be taken seriously.

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