Irregular sleep patterns are common as you grow older but, they can also be triggered due to medical and psychiatric illness, especially in conditions that cause pain or depression. A common misconception we hear a lot today is that you need lesser sleep as you grow older, when in fact you need the same amount of sleep that you got when you were younger.

You may not be able to sleep for 8 hours at a stretch as your sleep is easily interrupted by the usual disturbance that did not affect you before. This keeps your body from reaching deeper stages of sleep. Studies show that people over the age of 60 awaken close to 150 times a night when compared younger people waking up about 5 times a night. Although these interruption go unnoticed at the time they are a sign of inadequate sleep.

Insomnia is one of the most common complaints in people over the age of 65. Asthma, heart disease and arthritis are well known conditions along with pain, fever, coughing and itching to contribute to Insomnia. To make things worse drugs used to treat these conditions also disrupt sleep. Practicing relaxation techniques and keeping a close watch on your sleep can help in
such cases.

Many people get used going to bed early and rising early but some find it hard as they are ready to sleep earlier than desired. This “Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome (ASPS) can be quite disruptive to your social life as you wake up too early and are in bed before others. Exposure to outdoor light during late afternoons and early evenings can help as bright light is known to have an effect on the timing of the sleep/wake cycle and delays the feeling of sleepiness in the evenings and postpones morning awakenings.