Who needs more sleep – younger adults or older adults?

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February 1, 2010

Who needs more sleep – younger adults or older adults? A good night's sleep is essential to good health regardless of age, but those in good health tend to sleep at least 20 minutes less than those that are not. A recent study in the journal SLEEP found that adults free of sleep disorders and other serious health problems need less sleep than young adults. The study also confirmed that although older adults wake up more at night, good overall health would not require that they take a nap during the day.

The National Sleep Foundation's 2003 " Sleep in America " poll also examined sleep and aging and found that older adults who suffer from sleep disorders may have more difficulty managing other medical conditions. In fact, the poll findings indicated that 44% of older persons experience one or more of the nighttime symptoms of insomnia at least a few nights per week or more. Insomnia may be chronic (lasting over one month) or acute (lasting a few days or weeks) and is often times related to an underlying cause such as a medical or psychiatric condition.

There are steps all adults can take to get better sleep such as use the bed only for sleep or sexual activity and avoiding alcohol in the later evening (it increases awakenings later in the night).

Learn more about sleep and aging and how to cope with some associated issues.

The Study: Age-Related Reduction in Daytime Sleep Propensity and Nocturnal Slow Wave Sleep