When a person ages, there will be changes in his or her sleeping patterns, but it does not mean that a person is suffering from any circadian rhythm sleep disorder. In fact, over a typical lifespan of a person, the amount of time a person spends sleeping decreases. Babies who are neonates (newborn) spend at least 16 hours to 20 hours of sleep every single day. And for children ageing one year old to 4 years old, they approximately spend 11 hours to 12 hours of sleep every single day. As you can see, the number of hours spent decreases with age.
Advancement of Age and Sleep Cycle
Sleep Cycle Changes as Age Advances
The gradual decline of hours of sleep needed continues through childhood until early adulthood. An adolescent will need to get 9 hours of sleep, though not always necessary, to function at his or her best during the day. During early adulthood up to middle age, they will need to get at least 8 hours of sleep per night so that they will be able to function at their best during the day, and maintain optimal health.
Elderly Adults and Their Sleep Cycle
Even though adults still need to get at least 8 hours of sleep per day, they may find it hard to obtain 8 hours of sleep in one block. One of the challenges of elderly adults is getting enough hours of sleep every day to ensure that they are getting enough rest for optimum health. There are many different factors why elderly adults find it hard to sleep longer hours in one block, which include:
Hormonal Changes – as people age, there will be a decline of the production and release of 2 important hormones that is important in regulating the normal circadian rhythm cycle, which are melatonin and growth hormone.
Health Conditions – Certain health conditions or medical disorders can interfere with the normal cycle of the circadian rhythm, and may sometimes lead to a circadian rhythm sleep disorder. As people age, they will be at higher risks for developing medical conditions, which can cause in changes in the body that can interfere the normal sleep cycle.
Lifestyle Changes – Daily routines change as people age. Changes in the daily routine can have effects to the normal sleep cycle.
Sunlight – Sunlight can help in stimulating the hormone melatonin, which is important in keeping the normal cycle of the circadian rhythm. Getting at least 2 hours of sunlight exposure each day can help in regulating your sleep cycle and prevent development of circadian rhythm sleep disorder.