As we get older it’s harder to fall asleep, new research has found. And it’s not because of young children, our partners or other distractions.
The reason is biology.
A review of scientific literature published in the medical journal Neuron and published in The New York Post and news.com.au found adults begin to lose their ability to lapse into deep, restorative sleep from about their mid-30s. And it’s no coincidence, the researchers say, that this is also about the time we start to show signs of aging.
The researchers add that lack of sleep has been linked to many diseases of the brain, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Even diabetes, obesity and cancer have links to lack of sleep.
Researchers have found that, as the brain ages, neurons and circuits in the areas that regulate sleep slowly degrade, resulting in a decreased amount of non-REM sleep.
Non-REM sleep is a deep state of sleep, without rapid eye movement, dreaming, and bodily movement. Non-REM sleep plays a key role in maintaining memory and cognition, which explains the connection between dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
The research debates whether older people need less sleep or they can’t generate all the sleep they need. But in general, the research found that older people aren’t getting enough sleep.
The authors stress that there is variability between individuals when it comes to sleep loss. The study did find that women seem to experience far less deterioration in non-REM deep sleep than men.
Regardless, researchers recommend more attention be paid to lack of sleep and what can be done to correct it.
At Signature Medical Group, we’re ready to answer any of your questions about sleep. Make an appointment today and get the help you need.