Sleep quality drops with age

MEN AND WOMEN in their 80s and 90s sleepless and have poorer quality sleep than young individuals, but they are also less likely to report feeling unrested or overly sleepy the next day, investigators report in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Sun 31 Aug 2008, 9:30 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 2:52 PM

Elderly men and women are more likely to have trouble falling asleep, says new study as“This study is novel in part due to the sheer size and scope of the study compared to earlier works,” fi rst author Dr. Mark L. Unruh noted in correspondence with Reuters Health. By studying older individuals still living in the community, the results may be generalised to the majority of older adults.

Unruh’s group designed the study to determine whether ‘sleep problems in older adults should be addressed by treating underlying conditions rather than viewed as simply a consequence of ageing.’ The study included 5,407 subjects who completed a sleep questionnaire and underwent a home sleep study.

According to Unruh, at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and co-investigators, the sleep test, or ‘polysomnography,’ showed that the total average nightly sleep time declined from 386 minutes among women in their 40s to 341 minutes among those 80 years of age or older. In men, the corresponding sleep times declined from 361 minutes to 326 minutes.

Older individuals had more nighttime awakenings, the report indicates. The results also showed signifi - cant diff erences between men and women. In men, older age was linked to less deep sleep.

By contrast, there was little association between older age and sleep stage in women, but elderly women were more likely to have trouble falling asleep.

The investigators note that while older age was associated more strongly with poor sleep - according to the test results, in men than in women, women were more likely to report having poor sleep. “If older adults have sleep complaints, (doctors) should take them seriously, since older age wasn’t strongly associated with complaints of worse sleep,” Unruh said.

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