How sleep changes as you age

There’s a common misconception that as we get older, we need fewer hours’ sleep each night.

In truth, the amount of sleep we need stays fairly consistent throughout our lives.

What does change with age, however, is the quality of sleep we are able to achieve. This can have a knock on effect to our waking lives, causing us to be less active, demotivated and, in chronic cases of sleeplessness, lead to long term illness such as depression.

Here are some of the contributing factors to sleep loss in older adults.

Joint and muscle pain 

As we get older, joints particularly begin to deteriorate, causing pain, which ultimately leads to a restless night. Back pain particularly is unhelpful when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep but minor muscular pain and aching joints can also cause problems and get worse as the night goes on and the pressure on the joints increases. 

Lighter sleep 

Sleep follows a pattern of three stages, going from light sleep, getting deeper into a deep dreaming sleep and back up to light sleep again. As we get older, the periods of lighter sleep are much more shallow and often we wake up completely. It’s quite common for an older person to wake several times each night at the conclusion of each pattern of sleep. 


Nocturia, or needing to use the toilet in the night, is another common cause of sleep loss as we get older. Combined with shorter periods of deep sleep, this can lead to not only waking, but having to get out of bed several times in the night. It can then take longer to drift back off to sleep again, meaning even less sleep. 

Overcoming sleep problems 

If you are struggling to get to sleep at night much less stay asleep when you do manage to drift off, you may wish to consider an adjustable bed.

An electric adjustable bed allows you to find a sleep position that is comfortable for you and ensures your weight is supported throughout your body. This removes pressure from your spine and joints and can provide some much-needed relief from the aches and pains that are keeping you up at night.

Rise & Recline Ltd offer a range of adjustable beds designed to help you feel comfortable and get a better night’s sleep. Take a look at our range of beds to discover for yourself how we can help you sleep more effectively.

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