What is the general organization of sleep?
Sleep is structured in different phases: falling asleep, light, deep and REM sleep.
The so-called deep sleep is the most restorative, REM sleep is the provider of dreams.
These different sleep phases are organized in cycles, which are themselves separated by a brief waking time.
During a complete night, the sleep cycles follow one another in variable number, according to whether one is big or small sleeper.
Indeed, the duration of sleep necessary to feel good in the morning varies from one subject to another.
How can aging affect sleep?
Aging significantly changes the way you sleep:
- The total duration of sleep decreases with age (to be distinguished from the time spent in bed) and certain phases are modified, in particular the deep sleep which is shortened;
- Re-falling asleep between two sleep cycles is longer and often delayed by anxiety and external factors (neighborhood noise, excessive room temperature);
- The desire to sleep occurs earlier in the evening and the early awakening is earlier;
- The sleep / wake regulation system is less effective because certain hormones that synchronize the body with the environment are secreted in lesser quantities.
All of these changes in sleep with age make seniors more sensitive to life events (family reunion, large meals drenched in alcohol, change of pace during vacations, etc.), which influence the quality of sleep.
It is ultimately seen as less effective, which promotes daytime sleepiness and increases the need to take a nap. There is nothing pathological or harmful to these physiological variations, but the sensations of poor sleep increase so much that 1/3 of people over 65 end up complaining about their bad nights. It should be noted that sometimes certain types of insomnia are secondary to very specific pathologies that must be known to detect.