How much sleep does an elderly person need ?
We all look forward to a good night’s sleep. It gives our body time to rest and to restore energy levels. Without enough restful sleep we may become tired and irritable, loose concentration and become prone to accidents. Like food and water, sleep is essential to good health and quality of life.
There are two types of sleep:
- Non-rapid eye movement ( NREM sleep) NREM sleep includes four stages, ranging from light to deep sleep. We cycle through these four stages of sleep approximately every 90 minutes.
- Then REM sleep, the most active stage of sleep when dreaming often occurs.
Researchers believe that two body systems, the sleep/wake process and our circadian clock regulate our sleep. They program our bodies to feel tired at night and awake during the day.
Sleep needs change over a person’s lifetime. Children and adolescents need more sleep than adults. Interestingly, older adults need about the same amount of sleep as younger adults, seven to nine hours per night. Many older adults often get less sleep than they need one reason is that they often have more trouble falling asleep and older people often sleep less deeply and wake up more often throughout the night.
This often causes them to sleep during the day. Night time sleep schedules may change with age and many older adults tend to get sleepier earlier in the evening and wake earlier in the morning.
Reasons for disrupted sleep patterns
There are many possible explanations for these changes. Older adults may produce and secrete less melatonin, the hormone that promotes sleep. They may also have pain or take medication that changes sleep patterns. Many older people need to visit the toilet more often which wakes then during the night.