In terms of time spent sleeping, do senior citizens need more or less sleep?
We have all heard the joke that seniors sometimes say about not sleeping as much in their old age, because they are afraid they won’t wake up. Over the span of my career I have also heard many elderly people say that they just don’t need as much sleep as they did in their youth, and that 5-6 hours is enough to get them by.
Experts pretty much agree that while infants require 16-20 hours of sleep, young children do better on 11-12, adolescents can function on 9, and adults need 7-8. Unfortunately, seniors aren’t figured into this equation.
I have always wondered about the actual science behind this, because it would make sense that our sleep needs might change as we get older. What I found out is actually kind of surprising.
Research shows however that seniors need an average of 7-8 hours of sleep per night to function properly. Sleep deprivation, as a result of life stresses, health problems, or just general restlessness can be especially dangerous for seniors because of other health problems associated with not giving the body enough time to heal.
A study conducted in 2008 found that impaired sleep lead to declines in social activity, decreased memory and self-confidence, and the inability to function during regular activities.
A 2014 study found that the less senior citizens sleep, the faster their brains age. According to this study, seven hours of sleep daily was perfect for cognitive function.
So the moral of the story is, don’t use your age as an excuse to miss out on a good nights sleep. Senior citizens, especially those with other medical conditions should strive to get at least 7 hours of sleep at night.
Take care of your body as your age, and it will take care of you. If you keep that in mind, especially regarding sleep, you should be just fine.
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