Research: Sleep improves with age

hands of elderly person and babyContrary to conventional wisdom, older people have fewer problems sleeping than younger adults, a study from the University of Pennsylvania shows. In fact, a good night’s sleep seems to improve consistently over a person’s lifetime.

Drawing from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s massive survey of more than 150,000 adults, researchers concluded that, after factoring out illness and depression, people in their 80s had the fewest complaints about their sleep patterns and people in middle age had the most sleep difficulties. In general, women reported more sleep problems than men.

“This flies in the face of popular belief,” says Dr. Michael A. Grandner, research associate at the university’s Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology and lead author. “These results force us to rethink what we know about sleep in older people—men and women.”

The study was published in the March issue of the journal Sleep.

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