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Over 65s say they’re getting the best sleep

The stereotype of the older Aussie getting up to go to the toilet and tossing and turning of a night-time may have some grounding in reality, but over 65s are happier with their night’s shut-eye than younger Aussies, according to a new study.

On world sleep day, the Sleep Health Foundation has released findings from an Australia wide survey that showed 61 per cent of over 65s felt they got enough sleep compared with only 47 per cent of those under 65.

One-third of those over 65s surveyed woke up feeling unrefreshed compared with 48 per cent of those of working age.

Professor Robert Adams, a sleep specialist with the Sleep Health Foundation said: “We found that older people are not sleeping particularly well, but they have considerably less sleep-related fatigue and irritability than younger people.

“It’s positive to see that despite some pretty significant disruption older people are, on the whole, less bothered by a bad night’s sleep and wake feeling refreshed.”

However, the crafty over 65s may have learnt to hide their fatigue, said Adams.

“It’s also possible that older Australians have learnt to mask their sleep problem with caffeine, as results show 28 per cent have 4-5 caffeinated drinks a day. If that’s the case that’s nothing to celebrate.”

On average, most people have between seven and nine hours sleep per night, and four in 10 report having at least one 30 minute nap a day and for over 80s that goes up to at least an hour nap a day.

As we age our body clock changes and the hormones that help us sleep are released earlier in the day, but at the same time, the hormone that helps us sleep at night – melatonin – is produced less as we age.

Studies also show that one in four of us have sleep apnoea or periodic limb movement and 4 in 10 of older Aussies experience a bout of insomnia that lasts for 3 months or more.

However, Adams said: “I think many people will be happy to know that, increasingly, tiredness and fatigue are not an inevitable consequence of getting older.

“In fact, your sleep can actually improve with age.”

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