Written by Dr. Anitha Paderla, MBBS | 
Medically Reviewed by dr. reeja tharu, M.Phil.,Ph.D on Oct 19, 2016

Aging and sleep

Older people are known to produce less of the hormone melatonin, which plays a role in promoting sleep. The sleep cycles too have more of light sleep and less of deep sleep. Interestingly, healthy elderly people sleep as much as they did when they were young adults. Hence the difference in sleep architecture could be attributed to medical conditions that are present in the elderly.

Growth hormone is known to be secreted during the deeper stages of sleep. As we age, we typically get less deep sleep, leading to decreased production of growth hormone. This deficiency is associated with increased fat tissue and abdominal obesity, reduced muscle mass and strength and reduced exercise capacity. So if we promote deep sleep in the elderly we can slow the signs of aging.

Reference:

  1. Huxley, Aldous. In Coren S. Sleep Thieves: An Eye-Opening Exploration into the Science and Mysteries of Sleep. New York: The Free Press; 1996, p. 175.

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