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Senior sleep of higher quality than expected study

Margaret Jack  By Margaret Jack   |   Posted in Sleep Research   |   Last updated: Monday 31st December 2012

Elderly people may be experiencing better quality, longer duration sleep than was widely expected, according to the results of a new US study. The University of Pittsburgh polled 1200 seniors on their sleep habits, and found that around 75% reported an average uninterrupted nightly sleep of almost seven hours. Of the 25% who claimed to sleep less throughout the night, sleeping difficulties and daytime lethargy were largely related to medication and health conditions rather than simply age.

Sleep is anecdotally thought to deteriorate as people enter senior years, with lighter sleep, difficulty falling asleep at night, regular night-time awakenings, sleepiness in the early evening and daytime napping all becoming more common. However the findings of the study cast doubt on these generalisations.

"Our findings suggest that in matters regarding sleep and sleepiness, as in many other aspects of life, most seniors today are doing better than is generally thought," lead author Timothy Monk from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “If you can keep yourself healthy and avoid or treat age-related diseases and disorders, then you'll be able to sleep like a younger adult. Although some seniors do have huge sleep problems which need to be understood and treated, the majority of seniors are not reporting significant problems with either nocturnal sleep or daytime sleepiness."

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