Sleep needs change throughout the human lifespan. Babies, children, and teenagers each vary in the amount of sleep they need each night. The same is true for adults versus older adults.
Sleep patterns change as a person ages. As people get older, most will wake more throughout the night and wake earlier than they would like. People tend to wake up earlier and go to bed earlier as they age.
All of these changes are considered normal in the aging process, as long as they do not impact your ability to get the sleep you need.
Getting a good night’s rest is as important to brain health as diet, exercise, and cognitive training. Research suggests that getting fewer than 8 hours of sleep can negatively impact memory and executive function. It is also believed that lack of sleep can impact the accumulation of beta-amyloid in the brain, a marker for Alzheimer’s disease.
- Alzheimer’s Association. (2017). Beta-amyloid and the amyloid hypothesis https://www.alz.org/national/documents/topicsheet_betaamyloid.pdf
- Ju YE, Lucey BP, Holtzman DM. Sleep and Alzheimer disease pathology—a bidirectional relationship. Nat Rev Neurol. (2014) 10:115–9. doi: 10.1038/nrneurol.2013.269
- Luik AI, Zuurbier LA, Hofman A, Van Someren EJ, Ikram MA, Tiemeier H. Associations of the 24-hour activity rhythm and sleep with cognition: a population-based study of middle-aged and elderly persons. Sleep Med. (2015) 16:850–5. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2015.03.012
- Mander BA, Winer JR, Walker MP. Sleep and Human Aging. _Neuron. _(2017) 94:19-36. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2017.02.004
- Mehegan L, Chuck R, Laura S. 2016 AARP Sleep and Brain Health Survey. Washington DC: AARP Research (2017). Available online at: www.aarp.org/sleepandbrainhealth.
- Watson NF, Badr MS, Belenky G, Bliwise DL, Buxton OM, Buysse D, et al. Recommended amount of sleep for a healthy adult: a joint consensus statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society. Sleep. (2015) 38:843–4. doi: 10.5664/jcsm.4758