What Happens To Sleep When We Age ?

So Aging is inevitable for all of us and it has a profound impact on sleep that I’ll get into here in a moment, Depending on the phase of life sleep requirements are much differen, obviously, Look at an infant how much an infant sleeps look at your teenage child, How much time they spend sleeping in in the morning , and then looking at adult you know an adult in their thirties versus an adult in their 50s versus an adult in their 70s or 80s.

Their sleep patterns are completely different their physiology is different and their need for various phases of sleep is also different and changes, so one thing we know is that aging disrupts sleep and there are specific things that can be done to impact that and help shift sleep mechanics back to a more normal and healthy pattern.

So what happens as we age, stage 3 sleep decreases that’s deep sleep that’s restorative sleep and as a compensatory mechanism stage two increases this is the later sleep, this is state of sleep where a person can be easily aroused, And in older people latency increases what that means is they may oftentimes have a little bit more difficulty falling asleep the other thing that happens with older people as they tend to be awoken more often during the night and that just makes sense, The deeper sleep is less often the later stages of sleep where it’s much easier to arouse a person their brainwaves are completely different noises the heater kicking on a bed partner or an outside noise.

A variety of things can actually cause them to wake up whether they come fully awake or just you know decrease the depth of their sleep to maybe stage one, the other thing that happens is the increased total time in bed, and so this often leads to insomnia and a variety of anxiety and mental things that go along with worrying about sleep or the amount of time that a person may spend in bed, so that’s another factor with aging a variety of other medical conditions can also cause fragmented sleep, and so the increased arousal can occur because of lung disease like emphysema COPD sleep apnea is a huge one that I alluded to in another section cardiovascular disease.

Some people have heart failure where their legs swell during the day and then at night when they lie down the fluid returns to the central circulation and they have to get up and urinate have to pee, and so they’re woken up throughout the night with that prostate issues musculoskeletal issues like restless legs chronic back pain neck pain pinched nerves all those things aren’t all aren’t uniqueness to geriatric patients but they certainly occur to a much higher frequency, and all these lead to sleep fragmentation increased arousal and disruption of the normal sleep architecture, cycle also shifts as we age and older person is often fatigued much earlier in the day.

Just think about the last family function that you went to after a meal who was one of the first people to fall asleep in the recliner. Usually grandpa grandma there often or earlier to bed than the rest of the family, and also waking up a lot more so I tend to wake up early in the morning. Just a personal note, we had an elderly relative Stay with us for a while and literally was awake every day at 3:30 with the TV on which can make it really challenging depending on the dynamics of your household.

And then the most notable thing that we’re all aware of including the person affected is fatigue. Obviously frequent disruptions in nighttime sleep poor sleep quality leads to profound fatigue which unfortunately is cumulative.