As we age, our sleep patterns undergo significant changes, often leading to earlier awakenings. On the whole, research has noticed a trend towards younger people getting more sleep and sleeping in later, while those who are older wake up early and get a lower quality of sleep. This article will give you an insight about this.
Older people may wake up before sunrise
You may often find older people in the family or neighborhood up in the morning even before the sun. This may or may not be a sign of insomnia.
Generally, most elderly experience sleep difficulty with waking up in the middle of the night and unable to sleep again, needing to urinate or due to pain from any long term illness.
Responses to inputs weaken
Natural aging process can have an effect on the time our body naturally goes to sleep and wakes up. One reason behind change in sleep patterns is that our brain becomes less responsive as we age.
Our brain’s responses to senses, such as sunset, sunlight, etc. are not as well as before due to aging. This disrupts our sense of time and our ability to mark where we are in a day.
Inability to sense time
Older adults are unable to sense time correctly, so they tend to get tired before their children or grandchildren. As a result, they wake up fully rested and earlier than the rest of the world.
Weak eyesight also plays a role
Vision changes that come with age reduce the intensity of the light stimulation that our brain receives. This light stimulation plays an important role in setting our circadian clock.
Older adults who have cataracts commonly experience this factor, due to issues like blurred vision, double vision and general trouble seeing.
Exposing yourselves to light may help
If you want to sleep better – doze off not too early and also not wake up too early in the morning – this tip might help.
Expose yourself to bright light in the late evening, 30 to 60 minutes before sunset. You can do this by going for a walk outdoors before sunset, reading a book on a bright iPad or watching TV on a bright screen. These bright lights will tell your brain that the sun hasn’t set yet. This will help to hold early melatonin production and may fix your sleep cycle.
How melatonin works
Melatonin is a hormone that the brain produces in response to darkness. When less light gets into the eyes, it is a sign that now is the time to sleep. Your body then starts to release melatonin, also called the sleep hormone.
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