Ever wondered why do older people sleep so much? Sleep is important for health and well-being. However, it is often neglected in today’s fast-paced society as we struggle to pack as much as we can into a 24-hour day.
People often prioritize work, socializing, or other activities over getting enough rest. Sleep is given the least attention although it is important for a variety of reasons. Its benefits however, extend beyond simply feeling rested.
So, why do older people sleep so much? This article explores this question along with some of the reasons why sleep is important for your health, and provides some tips for better sleep.
Table of Contents
Sleep And Its Effect On Physical Health – Why Do Some Seniors Sleep So Much?
Sleep plays a key role in maintaining physical health. During sleep, our bodies undergo a process of repair and regeneration, helping to restore and rejuvenate our tissues, muscles, organs, and immune system.
Conversely, chronic sleep deprivation can lead to a range of health problems, including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure.
Obesity and lack of sleep are linked together. Sleep plays a crucial role in regulating hormones that control hunger and appetite, such as ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin is responsible for stimulating appetite, while leptin suppresses appetite.
When we do not get enough sleep, the levels of ghrelin increase, and the levels of leptin decrease, leading to an increase in appetite and cravings for high-calorie foods. This can lead to overeating, weight gain, and an increased risk of obesity.
Sleep deprivation has also been linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. It plays an important role in regulating blood sugar levels.
Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to insulin resistance, a condition where the body is unable to use insulin effectively to regulate blood sugar levels.
Insulin resistance can lead to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, as well as other health problems such as high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
Cardiovascular Disease – Why Do Older People Sleep So Much?
Sleep is also important for maintaining cardiovascular health. Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart disease, stroke, and hypertension.
Sleep helps to regulate blood pressure, and lack of sleep can lead to an increase in blood pressure, putting additional strain on the heart and blood vessels.
How Lack of Sleep Hurts Mental Health
Why is sleep important for health? The best answer is mental wellness. Sleep plays a critical role in emotional regulation. During sleep, the brain consolidates and processes information from the day, helping us to form memories and learn new skills.
Lack of sleep can hurt mental health, contributing to problems such as anxiety, depression, and mood disorders.
Studies have shown that individuals who suffer from chronic sleep problems are more likely to develop mental health problems than those who get enough sleep.
Sleep And Your Cognitive Function
Sleep is essential for cognitive function. It helps to maintain focus, attention, and concentration, which are essential for learning and memory retention.
Lack of sleep can have a significant impact on cognitive performance, leading to problems such as reduced reaction times, decreased attention span, and an impaired decision-making ability.
Regulation of Your Emotions and Link to Sleep
Sleep and regulation of your emotions are closely related. Adequate sleep is essential for emotional regulation, while poor sleep can lead to emotional dysregulation.
During sleep, the brain consolidates memories and processes emotions, which helps regulate mood and behavior. Sleep also plays a crucial role in restoring the body’s energy and repairing damaged tissues, including those in the brain.
On the other hand, insufficient or poor-quality sleep can impair emotional regulation, leading to mood swings, irritability, and difficulty coping with stress.
Chronic sleep deprivation can even contribute to the development of mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression.
Research has shown that individuals who consistently get enough sleep have better emotional regulation and are more resilient to stress (Vandekerckhove & Wang, 2017) Therefore, you must prioritize getting adequate and restful sleep to promote emotional well-being.
Consequences Of Not Getting Enough Sleep
Lack of sleep causes serious health issues. Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to a range of health problems, including fatigue, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure.
Sleep deprivation can also have a significant impact on cognitive function, contributing to problems such as reduced attention span, impaired decision-making ability, and reduced reaction times.
Lack of sleep can also contribute to mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and mood disorders.
Tips For Getting Better Sleep
If you are struggling to get enough sleep, there are several things that you can do to improve your sleep habits:
Create a Sleep-Friendly Environment
Make sure that your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool, and remove any distractions such as electronic devices.
More importantly, your choice of mattress and pillows matter. Sleeping on an uncomfortable mattress or using pillows that give you neck pain will certainly ensure that you have an uncomfortable night’s rest.
Practice Relaxation Techniques
Engage in activities that help you to relax and unwind before bed, such as reading, taking a warm bath, or practicing yoga.
Avoid computer work, cell phone browsing and television watching 1 -2 hours before jumping into bed.
If truth be told, most people rarely do this. However, if you are one of those that find it difficult to fall asleep, then this tip will certainly help you.
Avoid consuming caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol before bed, as these substances can interfere with sleep. Green tea is also one to watch.
Regularly exercising can help to improve sleep quality, but make sure that you finish your workout at least a few hours before bedtime. otherwise all that activity can end up keeping you awake!
Why Do Some Seniors Sleep So Much?
Seniors may sleep more than younger adults for a variety of reasons, including change in sleep patterns, health conditions, and medication use.
One of the most common reasons why seniors sleep more is that they experience a change in sleep patterns as they age.
As with age, we tend to experience more fragmented sleep, waking up more often during the night, and spending less time in deep sleep. As a result, seniors may need more sleep to feel rested and rejuvenated.
In addition, seniors may have certain health conditions that affect their sleep, such as chronic pain, sleep apnea, or restless leg syndrome.
These conditions can make it harder for them to fall asleep and stay asleep, leading to increased daytime sleepiness.
The use of medication can also affect the sleep pattern of seniors as many common medications prescribed for older adults can cause drowsiness or fatigue as a side effect.
Conclusion – Why Do Older People Sleep So Much?
So why do older people sleep so much? There are several reasons health conditions, medication use and interactions, and change in sleep patterns with aging.
Sleep is the key to a healthy life. Good sleep helps with mental, physical, and emotional health. If you compromise your sleep for work then it will impact your performance.
So, the best thing you can do for yourself is to get good sleep. Never compromise it for anything. Make sure your mattress and pillows are comfortable. If they are not, replace them!
- Fatigue in Older Adults – How to Manage With Aging
- Tired Vs Fatigue. Do Seniors Know Which One?
- What Causes Fatigue in Older Adults? – Facts versus Myths
- Changes in the Body with Age – Avoid Surprise
 Vandekerckhove, M., & Wang, Y. (2017). Emotion, emotion regulation and sleep: An intimate relationship. AIMS Neuroscience, 5(1), 1–17. https://doi.org/10.3934/Neuroscience.2018.1.1
 Ltd, H. P. (2023, January 20). Sleep As Part Of Your Weight Loss Plan. HealthMatch. https://healthmatch.io/blog/sleep-as-part-of-your-weight-loss-plan#:~:text=Sleep%20plays%20an%20essential%20role