Back in 2012 I wrote about a survey that suggested we should expect our sleep to improve as we age. As I pointed out at the time, though, the survey was subjective in nature.
More recent (and objective studies) have cast doubt about the accuracy of that survey. One study found insomnia prevalence among community dwelling seniors to be as high as 42%.
As we get older, the amount of deep sleep we get decreases. It's thought that REM sleep declines by about 10 minutes every decade and the amount of time we spend awake during the night increases by about 30 minutes every decade.
Our circadian rhythms also weaken as we get older (but nobody really knows why), we are more likely to practice poor sleep hygiene, take medications that affect sleep, and suffer from aches and pains that keep us awake at night.
Furthermore, as we get older our bodies become less effective at regulating body temperature, which can make sleep more of a challenge.
The fact is, we're more likely to suffer from other health conditions as we age and these conditions can lead to secondary insomnia - insomnia that is a symptom or side-effect of another issue.
Despite all these factors, it's worth reminding ourselves that a decline in sleep quality as we age should never be seen as inevitable or normal.
Steps can be taken to improve sleep at any age.
Last updated: June 3, 2015