Seniors sleep less

Alan Wu

September 23, 2011

Seniors sleep lessNew research suggests that seniors sleep less, but may in fact be better rested than those in the younger generations.

In a study published in Current Biology, researchers from the University of Surrey in the U.K., looked at the sleeping habits of seniors versus younger people to see how they matched up.

Researchers monitored a group of people between the ages of 18 and 32, and a second group of participants between the ages of 60 and 72, over several days. Those in the study were required to remain in bed for 16 hours in a dark room.

From the data, scientists found that on average, the younger group slept for nine hours, while the seniors slept for an average of 7.5 hours.

"The most parsimonious explanation for our results is that older people need less sleep," said lead author, Elizabeth Klerman. "It's also possible that they sleep less even when given the opportunity for more sleep because of age-related changes in the ability to fall asleep and remain asleep."

Those worried about their parents well-being during the extra time they have during the night may want to install a medical alert system that they can activate for help should they fall while getting a midnight snack.