Skip to main content

Seniors get better sleep than most people think

November 21, 2012

Quality sleep is closely linked to healthy aging, and while some people assume that older adults tend to get less sleep than the younger population, new research suggests that's not the case. A study of around 1,200 people 65 and older found that more than half of them get around 7.5 hours of sleep each night.

The findings come from researchers at the University of Pittsburgh's Sleep and Chronobiology Center and University Center for Social and Urban Research, who performed extensive telephone interviews with the subjects. They found that about 75 percent of respondents reported getting an average of at least 6.75 hours of sleep each night.

The results run counter to the commonly held belief that people tend to sleep less once they get older. While some seniors may not get much sleep, experts suggest that is likely due to certain health conditions rather than the act of growing older.

"The take-away for older adults is that 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," said lead author Timothy H. Monk. "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."

While seniors may not be more predisposed to sleep problems, there are still some steps older adults can take to help improve the quality of their sleep. In fact, there are certain changes seniors can make to their diet that can help, according to Fox News.

Peanuts and peanut butter are a good source of protein, but they also foster good sleep due to their high levels of niacin, which releases serotonin into the brain. Serotonin helps relieve stress and can put seniors in the mood for sleep.