How Do My Sleep Needs Change As I Get Older?

Dr. Reena Mehra answers the question: 'How Do My Sleep Needs Change As I Age?'

ByReena Mehra, M.D., Prof. or Pulmonology, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine, University Hospitals Case Medical Ctr.
December 22, 2008, 3:55 PM

— -- Question: How do my sleep needs change as I get older?

Answer: So the amount of sleep that we need changes over the course of our age spectrum.

Neonates (infants) need approximately 18 hours of sleep at least, and adolescents need approximately ten hours of sleep, middle-aged adults, seven to eight hours of sleep.

And in older individuals, it is thought that perhaps they need less sleep, but more likely what is going on is the prevalence of many types of sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome actually increase in prevalence with older age.

Our circadian rhythm also undergoes changes associated with aging. So in adolescents, for example, they may be more likely to fall asleep later and sleep in, whereas older adults may be more likely to fall asleep earlier and wake up earlier.

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