THE OLDER ADULT
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.