A new study published this week in the Sleep journal has discovered that sleep problem decreases with age; basically contradicting the common belief that sleep problem comes with age.
A group of researchers from Center for Sleep of Pennsylvania University along with other organizations conducted a survey of 155,877 people from all ages who has previously reported sleep disturbances. Their study aims to find the answer on how sleep complaints alter as a person age.
The study was conducted by asking participants how often within the past 2 weeks they had problems staying or falling asleep as well as the number of days they have felt tired.
Their telephone survey has resulted in the conclusion that sleep quality, in fact, gets better as you get older. They found a general decline in sleep tiredness across higher age groups. Actually, women and men older than 80 are the least likely among the age groups to complain of sleep problems.
According to the study, poor overall health conditions and depression are both connected with sleep problems as those who have mild depression appear more twice as likely to report sleep disorders.
Basically, it shows that once you have control of mood and health, people dont necessarily have more sleep problems.
Experts seem to be disputing the results of the study as the method of data collection done is generally subjective (participants were only asked about their physical symptoms) as opposed to previous researches done through objective data gathering (e.g. monitoring patients’ sleep patterns in laboratory room) which could be the reason for the result difference.
A single study cannot hope to change the health care implementation. But considering that the sample size of the study is large, it will be hard to discount the results. Besides, the question given was so general that it captures the entirety of sleep disorders.
The results of this study is essentially contradicting their initial hypothesis that age affects sleep complaints and recommends that opinions of poor sleep in seniors might be connected to factors outside of physiologic aging.
At any rate, this alone cannot prove that elderly people are indeed sleeping better. It is more likely that sleep problems do not bother them much. In fact, the most plausible reason that actual age-related sleep problems do not reflect the level of discomfort expected as they would in a younger person.