Sleep Importance for Aging

Medically Reviewed
October 4, 2017

“The importance of sleep to healthy aging is often overlooked by the medical community, but it is becoming increasingly apparent that good sleep could be a new vital sign”, healthy aging researcher Dr. Robert Butler shared. Today, we learn about Sleep Importance for Aging.

We spend up to one-third of our life time sleeping and although most of us know sleep is essential to our overall well-being, not many of us make sleep a priority. While a short period of insomnia may not seem detrimental to many, chronic fatigue and sleep loss raises a deeper concern, since it can trigger the effects of sleep deprivation which affect your memory, mood and cardiovascular health, leading to chronic disease.

Sleep contributes to a healthy and strong immune system, balances your cravings, and regulates your hormones as well as your energy levels. When you do not get the recommended hours of sleep, and habitually overlook the importance of the hours between the sheets, you get used to a sleep-deprived schedule. This constant deprivation of the few precious hours of sleep may result in the impairment of your judgment, alertness, and reaction time.

The amount of sleep each person needs depends on a variety of factors, but most importantly age. As the years go by, your physical appearance changes and so does your sleeping pattern. Most people report that aging actually has made it more difficult for them to have a restorative, good night sleep and remain asleep throughout the night. However, it is crucial to still try to find healthy sleep habits, like sticking to a sleep routing, and get the hours you need.

So what are the recommended hours of sleep you need? Although pinpointing exact hours of sleep can be difficult at times as it depends on so many different factors, The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) identifies the “rule-of-thumb” amounts that researchers agreed on. The revised recommendations include:

  • Newborns (0-3 months): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours each day (previously it was 12-18)
  • Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range widened two hours to 12-15 hours (previously it was 14-15)
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range widened by one hour to 11-14 hours (previously it was 12-14)
  • Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours (previously it was 11-13)
  • School age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours (previously it was 10-11)
  • Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours (previously it was 8.5-9.5)
  • Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category)
  • Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours
  • Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category)

According to NSF sleep requirements by age, are you getting enough sleep? If you answered no, there is still time to reset your sleep pattern. To start a new and improved path aimed at obtaining better, deeper sleep, there are measures you can take to pave the way towards better sleep:

  1. Avoid naps during the day at all costs
  2. Reduce or eliminate stimulants including caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine before bed time
  3. Practice relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation
  4. Evaluate your room. Maybe it is time to get softer pillows or a lighter comforter
  5. Stick to a healthy, sleeping routine. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day
  6. If you need a bed time snack, try warm (caffeine-free) tea or milk. It will be soothing and increase sleepiness
  7. Exercise during the day, so you are more likely to be tired during the evening
  8. Talk to your medical practitioner about Travacor or Kavinace

If after incorporating these tips you are still having trouble sleeping or staying asleep, do not hesitate to reach out to your primary care physician, find a sleep professional or contact us today.