Sleep is a necessity and a lack of sleep or poor quality sleep can easily ruin your day. While those of any age can experience sleeping problems, sleeping problems unfortunately become more common as we age for a variety of reasons. As with other bodily changes, some sleeping changes are simply something adults will need to accept as they age. However, if you are experiencing a significant long term sleeping problem that is negatively affecting the quality of your life or have noticed drastic changes in your sleeping patterns, it is time to investigate why and look for solutions.
Why do Adult’s Sleeping Patterns Change?
Adult sleeping patterns can change for multiple reasons. Adults produce lower levels of growth hormone, which is associated with deep, slow wave sleep. The level of melatonin, a hormone which helps regulate your sleep and wake cycles is also reduced as one gets older. Fortunately, melatonin levels can be safely increased with over the counter supplements if necessary. There are numerous studies that support a general decline of the circadian system, which is responsible for our sleep and wake cycles, but the underlying mechanisms are not completely clear at this time. Lifestyle can also become a factor for sleeping problems as we age. Stress, alcohol, more time commitments, less exposure to sunlight, lack of physical exercise, and other medical issues can make getting proper sleep more difficult. While sleeping patterns may change as one gets older, high quality and plentiful sleep is still as vitally important to health as it is for younger adults and children.
How Many Hours of Sleep do Adults Need?
Unfortunately, there is no clear scientific answer to how many hours of sleep that adults need. Sleep needs will vary from individual to individual. A general guide is that most adults will need somewhere around seven to eight hours of sleep a day, slightly less than that of younger adults. As everyone is different, the best method for gauging how much sleep you need is simply how you feel throughout the day. If you are getting an adequate level of sleep you will not be sleepy during the day or wake up still feeling tired. Similarly, it is not normal to consistently have difficulty falling asleep and any of these symptoms might be indicative of a sleeping problem.
Sleeping Tips for Adults
It is always wise to consult with a physician if lack of sleep or other sleep related problems are impacting the quality of your life, but practicing better sleep hygiene can never hurt and can rule out many things. Regular exercise, exposure to sunlight during the day, eating healthier, and removing any sources of psychological stress can all make a big difference on the quality of your sleep. You should strive to maintain a consistent sleep schedule, make sure that your bedroom is comfortable and free of distractions, and avoid alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine as they are all stimulants. It is also best to avoid artificial lights the closer to bedtime that it is, as artificial lights can suppress the production of melatonin.