AS YOU AGE, SO DO YOUR SLEEP PATTERNS

Your age has a major impact on how you sleep at night.

We’re all human. And, for the most part, we all need the same amount of sleep. Generally, for adults, seven to eight hours is considered the norm. But, as we grow and age, we sleep in different ways. Here are a few things you might not have known about changing sleep patterns.

Teenagers need more of it. Busy schedules aren’t the only reason that teens tire out. Due to changing hormones, their internal clocks are programmed to stay awake later at night and sleep later in the morning. To feel refreshed in the morning and alert during the day, most teens require about nine hours of sleep a night. They’re not slackers; they’re just giving in to the changing demands of their sleep-wake cycle.

There’s nothing wrong with being a night owl. Some people are programmed to stay up later at night, while others are naturally prone to waking up early. We all follow the circadian rhythm, the 24-hour internal clock that controls when we’re tired and when we’re hungry. Not everyone’s clocks are the same. This isn’t a good or bad thing; it’s just the way we are.

As we age, we need to cope with changing sleep patterns. As you age, you may not sleep as well, fall asleep earlier, or wake up more frequently during the night. This doesn’t mean you need less sleep. You still require about eight hours per night, but that sleep will come in different ways. Your body will spend less time in deep, dreamless sleep, which will lead to more midnight awakenings. Disruptions may come from more frequent bathroom use, increased anxiety, or the discomfort and pain that occurs with certain chronic illnesses.

When and why sleep changes occur is different for everyone. As a matter of fact, the number of nocturnal awakenings can begin to increase as early as 40 years of age. As your sleep becomes lighter you may feel more sleep deprived even when you sleep for the same amount of time as you used to. This is something that needs to be paid attention to because sleep deprivation has been known to lead to confusion and health issues. If you think that your personal sleep habits are changing and you have trouble sleeping, there are a few things you can do.

  • Only use the bed and bedroom for sleep.
  • If you’re spending too much time lying awake, spend less time in bed.
  • Develop soothing bedtime rituals, like taking a bath or playing music that will help you wind down.
  • Get at least two hours of sunlight a day to help regulate your sleep-wake cycle.
  • Try taking a short nap earlier in the day to improve overall restfulness.
  • Stay active during the day and your body will be more prepared for sleep at night.
  • Stick to a regular sleep schedule, even on weekends.

People at different stages of life require different amounts of sleep to feel rested.

  • Teenagers
  • approximately 9 hours per night.
  • Adults
  • 7 to 8 hours per night.
  • Older adults (60+)
  • 7 to 8 hours per day.
  • Pregnant women
  • may need a few more hours of sleep per night.

No matter what your age, getting enough sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your health. While you may be busy or your body may not sleep when you want it to, it’s worth the effort to learn how to get the sleep your body needs.

 
 

TIP OF THE WEEK

AVOID THE SNOOZE BUTTON
Uninterrupted slumber is better sleep. Train yourself to get up on the first ring.