THE OLDER ADULT

The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - - COVER STORY -

It’s a myth that we need less sleep as we age. “An 85-year-old man needs as much sleep as he did when he was 25,” Dr Stan­ley says.

But what does de­crease is the abil­ity to get that sleep. Be­cause of changes to their cir­ca­dian rhythms at this stage of life, older peo­ple feel sleepier ear­lier in the evening and wake up ear­lier in the morn­ing.

Which, re­searchers say, could be be­cause that the lenses of our eyes start to yel­low with age: “It may be linked to sleep as it is this same blue light that is most sig­nif­i­cant in set­ting our body clocks and pre­vent­ing the pro­duc­tion of me­la­tonin,” Gre­gory ex­plains. On top of this we ex­pe­ri­ence lighter sleep at this stage of life, ac­cord­ing to a 2004 study.

Gre­gory points out that sleep ap­noea, rest­less leg syn­drome and night-time uri­na­tion are all com­mon in older adults.

While naps in the day­time might work for younger peo­ple,

“gen­er­ally if an older per­son has trou­ble sleep­ing they should cut the naps,” Dr Stan­ley says.

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