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    Is your sleep different than it used to be when you were younger? It happens to a lot of people.

    Nearly half of men and women over the age of 65 say they have at least one sleep problem. With age, many people get insomnia or have other sleep disorders.

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    It’s true that as we get older, our sleep patterns change. In general, older people sleep less, wake up and go back to sleep more often, and spend less time in deep sleep or dreaming than younger people.

    But at any age, you still need quality rest to be healthy.

    What Causes Sleep Problems With Age?

    Some common reasons include:

    Poor sleep habits: If you don’t keep a steady schedule for going to bed and waking up, it can affect your body’s internal clock and make it even harder to get good sleep. Also, at any age, it’s a minus if you drink alcohol before bedtime, nap too much, or stay in bed when you’re not sleeping.

    Medications: Some drugs make it harder to fall or stay asleep, or even stimulate you to stay awake. If you think that might be true for you, ask your doctor to check.

    Worry, stress, or grief. Aging brings many life changes. Some are positive. Others are really hard. When you lose someone you love, move from your family home, or have a condition that changes your life, that can cause stress, which can hamper your sleep.

    If changes like these affect you or an aging loved one, talk with your doctor or a counselor. It could help ease your mind so you can sleep better.

    Sleep disorders: Besides insomnia, these include apnea, restless legs syndromeperiodic limb movement disorder, and REM behavior disorder. Your doctor can see if you have one of these conditions.

    Too much downtime. Many people stay active well into their golden years. But if your days are too idle, you may find it harder to get good sleep.

    Do You Get Enough Sleep?

    Everyone is different. If you sleep less than when you were younger but still feel rested and energetic during the day, it might be that you now need less sleep.

    But if you have noticed that your lack of sleep affects you during the day, tell your doctor. There are steps you can take to get better rest. Many are simple tweaks to your daily routine, like setting a regular bedtime, being more active, and taking steps to ease your mind before you hit the hay.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on February 27, 2016
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