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Study: The Elderly Need As Much Sleep As Younger People

February 25, 2010 by  

The elderly need as much sleep as younger peopleAccording 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.
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  • Harold Olsen

    I can only speak for myself on this. I am 60 and I find I function better on only 6 hours of sleep than if I get more than that. I work graveyard shift and if I get more than 6 hours of sleep I have a problem concentrating and for most of my shift I feel as though I am half asleep. When I get just 6 hours, and sometimes just 5, I function just fine and have no problem concentrating on what I am doing. I have been this way since my late thirties. In fact, even earlier than that, it seems the more sleep I get the worse I feel the next day.

  • http://victorbarney@embarqmail.com Victor L Barney

    I’m 62 and 9 hours works for me. I’m early to bed, about 8:30-9pm and early to rise, 5:30-6am. I’m recently retired after being laid-off, but I generally have been sleeping the same since I was 40-45 years old. I will admit, I never was a night person though, even when I was!

  • Jim Benat

    I am 71 years old and I have always had a hard time falling asleep unless I am legitamally tired. In other words, I can’t just lay down and go to sleep just because I have to get up early the next day. In fact, if I know I have to get up early, I have a even harder time going to sleep. Many times I have spent the next day very droggy from little to no sleep. Then that night I am tired again and go right to sleep. I usually take two over the counter sleeping pills every night. Recently I had to go to a all day event that started at 8:15 AM. I didn’t go to sleep until about 5:00 AM even after taking two over the counter sleeping pills and a shot of Nyquil. I had to cancel going because I felt so tired. Even as a kid I had to sneak a flashlight under the covers to read myself to sleep.
    If I sleep about six or seven hours I feel great. When younger I could easily get by on much less sleep. It’s a mystery to me how people can just say, I got to go to sleep now, and off they go! I’ve never been able to do that.

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