THURSDAY, March 1 (HealthDay News) -- The older you get, the better you sleep, according to new research that challenges conventional wisdom that a good night's rest is harder to come by with age.
In a survey of 150,000 adults, people in their 70s and 80s had the fewest complaints of sleep disturbance, while those between the ages of 18 and 24 had the most. Except for a bump in complaints in middle age, sleep appears to improve steadily over the course of a lifetime.
One big implication of the study is that health-care providers should not just dismiss poor sleep as a normal part of aging, said study author Michael Grandner, a research associate at the Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology at the University of Pennsylvania.
The study, which appears in the March issue of the journal Sleep, looked at responses to a phone survey conducted in 36 U.S. states and territories. People described how often they had experienced sleep disturbance or daytime drowsiness in the previous two weeks.
"In women, you saw very clear increases in both sleep disturbance and daytime tiredness [in middle age]; in men you also saw an increase in later middle age," Grandner said. "I think in women, you're seeing an effect of pre-menopause and menopause. With men, it's a little later. That's where career peaks -- and peak stress -- occurs, in the later 50s."
Men in that age group are also at higher risk of sleep apnea and other health problems, he noted.
Health problems -- especially depression -- had a significant effect on sleep, the survey found.
"One of the most important findings was that depression was a significant predictor for sleep problems," said Michael Vitiello, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle, and an expert on sleep and aging.
"I applaud the investigators for this labor-intensive and co
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