Why is it Harder to Sleep as We Get Older?

As we get older, we are more likely to wake up at least two times each night. Here is why it is more difficult to sleep soundly through the night as we age:

Dr. Michael Howell is a sleep expert at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Howell says the networks in our brain cells are denser when we’re younger. It is those denser connections that lead to a more slow-wave, or deep, rest. By about age 30, once our brains are fully developed, those receptions between brain cells become less dense. This makes our rest automatically lighter.

Many people attribute their bad sleep to stress or waking up to go to the bathroom. While stress does make sleeping hard, the process that occurs as we age is much deeper. Also, as we get older, we need to go to the bathroom more during the day therefore we have to go more frequently at night as well.

Dr. Howell also points out that sleep conditions such as insomnia, restless leg syndrome, and sleep apnea are more likely to occur when people are older. He stresses that sleep apnea is more common later in life. This is because the tissues around the upper airway in your throat get looser with age and begin collapsing.

Finally, he reassures people that it is “perfectly normal for us to go to bed, wake up intermittently every couple hours, spend five minutes awake and fall back to sleep.” However, if there is a constant problem with staying asleep or waking up tired and being excessively drowsy all day, it should be something to check out with a doctor.

If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea and cannot tolerate CPAP Therapy, find a dentist near you to speak about a dental solution!

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