Does sleep really shorten when we get older?

December 1, 2014
Science Daily/Waseda University
As we age, the quality of our sleep gets gradually worse. People who were able to sleep deeply all night in their twenties become increasingly likely to wake up in the night in their forties. This is a common change to sleeping patterns that can happen to anyone as a result of aging, and is not abnormal. As we enter old age, our sleep becomes even lighter and we wake up frequently during our sleep. In a new article, an author reviews sleeping and aging, and gives some advice.

Another change that occurs to us in old age is that we tend to go to bed early and wake up early. This has been explained by the fact that lower energy levels in old age mean we tire more easily, causing more people to go to bed early and wake up early as a result. For the same reason, another change that occurs in old age is increased frequency of daytime naps. 
One characteristic of old age is increased variation between individuals' levels of health and energy. For this reason it goes without saying that there will also be people who claim that the above does not apply to them, that they tend to stay up late and lie in late, and do not nap.

However, according to the NHK Japanese Time Use Survey carried out from 1960 onwards, the amount of time dedicated to sleep every 24 hours increases as we enter old age. So does sleeping time actually increase as we age?

As described above, elderly people often sleep several times during the day, including daytime naps, and the NHK survey includes daytime naps as part of time dedicated to sleep.

The debate has been carried out without making a distinction between these sleeping times. In other words, time spent in bed is measured over a 24-hour period including daytime naps, whereas sleeping time is measured only by looking at nighttime sleep. From this perspective, robust data on how much time is actually spent sleeping by elderly people in a 24-hour period has not been submitted.
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141201090014.htm

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