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Few things in life are as desirable as a good night’s sleep. However, many older people find night-time as the worst part of the day. The sleep pattern changes as we grow old. The duration of sleep is shortened and the quality of sleep also becomes poorer. In addition, sleep may also be disturbed as a result of mental or physical illness.
The normal sleep cycle consists of two patterns: dreaming sleep and quiet sleep. Everyone has about four to five cycles each of these two patterns of sleep every night. For older persons, the amount of time spent in the deepest stages of sleep decreases. This may explain why older people are thought of as light sleepers
Although the amount of sleep each person needs varies widely, on an average seven to eight hours of sleep is required every night. However, with increasing age the amount of sleep that can normally be achieved declines.
At any age insomnia is the most common sleep complaint. Insomnia includes taking a long time (more than 30 to 45 minutes) to fall asleep or waking up many times during the night, or waking up early and being unable to get back to sleep. With rare exception, insomnia is a symptom of a problem, not the problem itself.
Getting a good night’s sleep can make a big difference in the quality of life. The following are a few suggestions in this regard: