Extreme Sleep Durations Lead to Poor Quality of Life

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August 4, 2009

Older adults with extreme sleep durations — less than five hours or more than 10 hours — had a markedly worse health-related quality of life compared with those who slept seven hours, according to an article in the journal SLEEP. The study, conducted by researchers at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid in Spain, followed 3,834 people aged 60 years and over from 2001 through 2003. Participants filled out questionnaires, and those with extreme sleep durations had worse physical and mental scores. With men, sleeping less than five hours was associated with a worse score on the physical portion of the questionnaire. According to the study, most of the associations resulting from extreme sleep duration were comparable with the reduction in quality of life that is typically associated with aging 10 years. Along with the physical changes that occur as we get older, changes to our sleep patterns are a part of the normal aging process. As people age they tend to have a harder time falling asleep and more trouble staying asleep than when they were younger. It is a common misconception, however, that sleep needs decline with age. In fact, research demonstrates that our sleep needs remain constant throughout adulthood.