How Does Aging Affect Sleep?

Sleeping is considered a vigorous routine to maintain your overall health. However, when you grow old, you might find it hard to fall asleep easily. Did you know that your total sleep time gradually decreases as you age? So how does aging affects your sleep time?

According to Sleep Foundation, it is likely for the elderly to experience changes in their duration and quality of sleep time. A master clock in a part of the brain AKA the hypothalamus is made of 20,000 cells that form the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). And what’s the relevance of SCN to your sleep time? Well, if you’ve heard about the term ‘Circadian Rhythms’, you’re in for more interesting facts.

Circadian Rhythms are composed of the 24-hour daily cycle that is controlled by the SCN. So daily cycles like getting hungry, feeling alert or tired or sleepy, and when your body releases hormones, those activities are impacted by the circadian rhythms. The SCN regulates your sleep time, so when you get older, your SCN ages too. And when it happens, there’s a high chance your SCN declines by disorganizing the circadian rhythms. As a result, your sleep time stays the same and gets lesser eventually.

But hey, a poor lifestyle can also be a factor when you get less sleep time as you age. Seniors, especially when they get to the point when they retire, probably get more nap time, but their sleep schedule is not regulated. How can we help our older loved ones catch more Zzzs in a good way? They can start by:

  • Having a healthy exercise routine
  • Reducing bedroom distractions
  • Helping them maintain a regulated sleep schedule
  • Developing a bedtime routine
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