Older adults who don’t sleep well are more likely to suffer from depression, attention and memory problems, excessive daytime sleepiness, and experience more nighttime falls.
Some of the most serious potential problems associated with chronic sleep deprivation are high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure or stroke. Other potential problems include obesity, depression, impairment in immunity and lower sex drive. Chronic sleep deprivation can even affect your appearance.
Sleep is a vital mechanism, regardless of your age. It has the ability to restore energy levels and heal both physical and cognitive damage. A regular sleeping pattern of 7.5–9 hours per night is recommended to help people function at their best.
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, older adults normally need anywhere from 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Some sleep experts suggest sleeping a bit longer is better for someone like an 80-year-old man.
Most healthy older adults age 65 or older need 7-8 hours of sleep each night to feel rested and alert. But as you age, your sleep patterns may change. These changes can cause insomnia, or trouble sleeping.
Sleep deprivation leaves your brain exhausted, so it can’t perform its duties as well. You may also find it more difficult to concentrate or learn new things. The signals your body sends may also be delayed, decreasing your coordination and increasing your risk for accidents. 3
Sometimes life calls and we don’t get enough sleep. But five hours of sleep out of a 24-hour day isn’t enough, especially in the long term. According to a 2018 study of more than 10,000 people, the body’s ability to function declines if sleep isn’t in the seven- to eight-hour range.
Around 20% of older people experience excessive daytime sleepiness, which may be a sign of an underlying health condition rather than merely old age. Excessive daytime sleepiness in older adults may be a symptom of health issues like sleep apnea, cognitive impairment, or cardiovascular issues.
What Are the Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation?
Sometimes it’s just a sign of interrupted nighttime sleeping due to poor sleep habits, an uncomfortable environment, the aches and pains of aging or a side effect of medications. But excessive daytime sleep in the elderly can also point to impaired nighttime breathing and other sleep disorders.
Younger adults (18 to 25 years old): Should average seven to nine hours per day. Adults (26 to 64): Should average seven to nine hours per day. Older adults (age 65 and over): Should average seven to nine hours per day.
The choice of a hypnotic agent in the elderly is symptom-based. Ramelteon or short-acting Z-drugs can treat sleep-onset insomnia. Suvorexant or low-dose doxepin can improve sleep maintenance. Eszopiclone or zolpidem extended release can be utilized for both sleep onset and sleep maintenance.
What Factors Affect Sleep Quality?
Answer From Jonathan Graff-Radford, M.D. The term “sundowning” refers to a state of confusion occurring in the late afternoon and spanning into the night. Sundowning can cause a variety of behaviors, such as confusion, anxiety, aggression or ignoring directions.
A study done by UCLA researchers discovered that just a single night of insufficient sleep can make an older adults’ cells age quicker. Long work hours may prevent us from getting the sleep we need.