According to a recent study, middle-aged and elderly people need as much sleep as younger people to properly function the next day. The findings dispute the common belief that people need less shut-eye as they age.
Sean Drummond, a psychologist at the University of California, San Diego, and his colleagues studied sleep patterns and their impact on learning ability of 33 older and 29 younger individuals.
Both groups spent two nights in the lab while scientists monitored their sleep patterns. After the second night, both sets of participants were given memory tests and had their brains scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which monitors oxygen take-up by neurons.
Researchers found that the testing performance of the elderly person’s group was directly correlated to the previous night’s sleep.
"For older adults, the absolute number of minutes of sleep they got last night has a significant influence on brain function today," said Drummond. "Whereas in young adults, the amount of sleep they get isn’t so important."
He added that older people may need more time in bed as they commonly struggle to sleep through the night without waking up.
There are numerous herbal supplements on the market that can help with sleeping disorders, including melatonin, valerian and kava.