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Many seniors' sleep habits are similar to those of young adults, study suggests
Date:11/19/2012

PITTSBURGH, Nov. 19, 2012 More than half of all retired people aged 65 and over report sleeping at least 7.5 hours per night, and between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7:30 a.m., contrary to commonly held assumptions that most elderly go to bed early and have trouble sleeping through the night, according to a study by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh's Sleep and Chronobiology Center (SCC) and University Center for Social and Urban Research (UCSUR).

This new study, supported by a grant from the National Institute on Aging, was conducted over five years and is among the first to provide empirical self-report data on the timing, quality and duration of sleep, as well as levels of daytime sleepiness in a large sample of retired older adults.

"Our findings suggest that in matters regarding sleep and sleepiness, as in many other aspects of life, most seniors today are doing better than is generally thought," said Timothy H. Monk, Ph.D., D.Sc., the study's lead author and professor of psychiatry at UPMC's Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic. "The stereotype of most seniors going to bed at 8 p.m., sleeping very lightly and being unduly sleepy during the day may be quite inaccurate, suggesting that 60 really is the new 40."

Researchers based the study, published in the journal Healthy Aging and Clinical Care in the Elderly, on extensive telephone interviews with nearly 1,200 retired seniors in western Pennsylvania. About 25 percent said they slept less than 6.7 hours per night and experienced problems with nocturnal sleep and daytime sleepiness. The remaining 75 percent reported sleeping more than 6.75 hours, on average.

According to the authors, past studies have highlighted the chronic sleep disruption often experienced by older adults, but few of these prior reviews were supported by strong empirical data and many concentrated on illness, thereby furthering stereotypical beliefs that older adults sleep for sh
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Contact: Cristina Mestre
MestreCA@upmc.edu
412-586-9776
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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