My grandfather gave us a sleep ultimatum: “Don’t knock on my door after 8 p.m. I want to sleep! Wait until the next day if you have anything to say, I’m up at 4:00.” Sometimes he would even say to me, “Young people, how can you have so much sleep and not be as mentally fit as us old people!”
Are all old people like this?
In our usual perception, there are two obvious characteristics of the sleep situation of the elderly: one is to sleep less, and the other is to go to bed early and get up early.
According to the physiological characteristics of the elderly, even healthy elderly people sleep less. Older people sleep lightly and wake up more often in the night. In terms of sleep structure, a sleep cycle includes non-rapid eye movement period (NREM) and rapid eye movement period (REM), and the non-rapid eye movement period can be simply divided into shallow sleep and deep sleep.
A complete sleep cycle is about 90 minutes of time, and night sleep is composed of such a cycle. Older people have less deep sleep and more light sleep, and they wake up easily from light sleep, and the number of wakeups will lead to a decrease in total sleep time. In addition, elderly people are more sensitive to environmental factors, such as sound, and are easily woken up by external sounds.
According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), the recommended sleep schedule indicates that seniors over the age of 65 should get 7-8 hours of sleep. Even 80-year-olds secrete the same daily sleep signal as when they were 20 years old.
This shows that the need for sleep in the elderly is not significantly reduced. When our parents get up at 5:00 every day and claim that they don’t feel sleepy even if they sleep for four or five hours a day, the real situation may be far less optimistic than imagined.
The Earlier You Go to Bed, the Healthier You Are? Wrong!
Some elderly people, because of the poor quality of sleep, sleep difficulties, so after dinner will go to bed early to brew sleep. I think I’ll eat at 5:30 pm (so I can digest), then I’ll lie down at 6 pm and brew it for two or three hours, I don’t believe I can’t sleep!
But a study of 1,051 older adults in Shanghai found that going to bed too early was positively associated with an increased risk of dementia .
After correcting for other influences, the researchers found that older adults who went to bed before 9 p.m. had a 1.16-fold increased risk of dementia compared to those who went to bed between 9-11 p.m. Sleeping after 11 p.m., on the other hand, was not significantly associated with dementia risk, nor was waking time.
The study analyzed that older adults who went to bed early generally had lower levels of education, higher rates of hypertension and diabetes, and slept longer but with poorer sleep quality.
Can’t Sleep and Stay Awake? Wrong!
I believe that many older people have had the thought: it’s annoying, I can’t sleep, so why don’t I just stay awake!
A study published in the journal Nature, which followed 10,308 British people aged 35-55 years for 25 years, analyzed and found that not getting enough sleep in middle-aged and older adults affects the probability of developing dementia. People who slept less than 6 hours per night had a 63% higher risk of dementia.
During deep sleep, the myelin sheath of neurons becomes smaller and the gaps between different neurons become larger, when the “degenerate proteins” stuck in the gaps are carried away by the cerebrospinal fluid, a process that can be interpreted as the brain removing “garbage”.
If you do not get enough sleep, these “garbage” will not be removed properly, and after a long period of accumulation, it may lead to degenerative diseases, such as osteophytes, arthritis, calcification, etc.
There Are Tricks To Improve the Quality of Sleep
There is no way we can’t grow old, but there are ways to sleep better.
First, moderately increase outdoor exercise. After the elderly retire, outdoor activities are reduced, and the amount of exercise is also greatly reduced, which leads to their bodies have been in a relaxed or even “drowsy” state during the day, which is very unfavorable to sleep at night.
More exercise, more things to do, more sunshine, the body is tired, I believe the quality of sleep will be greatly improved!
Second, do not snooze during the day. Some older people because they did not sleep well at night, did not sleep enough, they think about making up for it during the day, nothing will take a nap, think this way their sleep time is enough.
But this will form a vicious circle, sleep more during the day, and not sleepy at night. Seniors who want to improve sleep quality should consider reducing daytime sleep time to 10-20 minutes, as appropriate.
In addition, melatonin supplements can be taken depending on individual circumstances, and do not over-rely on sleeping pills. Melatonin is an amine hormone produced by the pineal gland of the brain, and its production is influenced by environmental brightness and the body’s biological clock.
Melatonin secretion is most abundant in the middle of the evening, less in the latter part of the evening, and then gradually decreases over time until dawn, which is the signal to stimulate human sleep.
Although melatonin supplementation cannot prolong deep sleep and overall sleep time, it can effectively regulate the disrupted biological clock of some elderly people, such as late to bed and late to rise, and disorders caused by jet lag.
It is important to note that one should never be overly dependent on sleeping pills. The effect of sleeping pills can be interpreted as knocking a person out.
During the so-called sleep period it brings, the brain does not perform activities such as storing memories, cleaning toxins and releasing hormones, and the brain and body do not get the rest they need, but simply sleep for the sake of sleeping. This is why many people with insomnia are still tired after taking sleeping pills to “get a good night’s sleep” as if they hadn’t slept at all.
Finally, good habits are very important for quality sleep. Before going to bed, take a hot bath or use hot water to soak your feet, which can help relax your nerves and help you fall asleep. When regular sleep becomes a habit, the problem of insomnia will be solved.