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How does sleep change with age and what affects it? endocrinologist answers

Date: May 19, 2024 Time: 13:37:27

Therapist-endocrinologist at Nebolit Medical Center

“Sleep is not only a moment of rest and recovery, but also a complex process consisting of several phases. We all know how important it is to get enough sleep and wake up refreshed, but we rarely think about what’s going on inside our bodies at night.”

What is sleep from a scientific point of view?

One of the key aspects of sleep is the stages of slow wave sleep and rapid eye movement sleep, or REM phases. The first includes several stages, starting with the nap and moving on to “light” sleep. At this time, our body calms down: pulse and blood pressure drop, brain activity slows down, muscles relax. This time is necessary for the regeneration and restoration of the body so that we can wake up each morning feeling physically healthy and alert.

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However, upon awakening from deep sleep, we may experience drowsiness and difficulty concentrating for the first half of the day. This is because after the slow wave sleep phase we enter the REM phase, or rapid eye movement phase. At this time, we see the most vivid dreams, and our eyes move quickly, as if we are watching what is happening on a movie screen.

REM sleep is also known as paradoxical sleep.

With adequate sleep, the human central nervous system (CNS) has the opportunity to fully recover. Also at this time, work is done on muscle synthesis after training and on the normalization of the functioning of the immune system.

Maintaining sleep hygiene, the body will have enough oxygen for proper sleep, thanks to which the muscles of the body relax.

For quality sleep you need: ventilation of the room before going to bed, micro-ventilation, clean bedding, a comfortable mattress and pillow, humidified air.

Why is adequate sleep also important for the central nervous system?

First of all, information is absorbed, unnecessary neural connections are eliminated, and the nervous system relaxes. Secondly, with adequate sleep, muscles relax and new cells are synthesized, which is especially important during sports activity. After all, only in the context of complete recovery will the desired muscle growth occur after the gym. Thirdly, during a complete night’s rest, the synthesis of hormones is regulated, which largely depends on circadian rhythms, that is, on changes in sleep and alertness.

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Additionally, getting enough sleep influences weight. If the sleep is intermittent and brief, the appetite will increase more and the cravings for foods rich in carbohydrates will occur more frequently.

It also activates and regulates the functioning of the immune system, which allows you to recover faster during an illness and prevent new ailments.

How does sleep change with age?

Sleep is an integral part of our lives and its duration can vary significantly depending on age.

Children need much more time to sleep than adults. Newborn babies sleep most of the day and wake up only to feed. By one year of age, most children are sleeping about 13 hours a day, including naps.

It is important to note that a child’s sleep in the first years of life is characterized by a longer phase of REM sleep (the rapid eye movement phase of sleep during which we dream), which plays an important role in maturation and development. of the brain. . Additionally, the better the quality of sleep, the more melatonin is produced in the brain.

Melatonin is a substance produced in the pineal gland that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and favors the organization of the biological rhythm and the normalization of sleep.

With age, melatonin synthesis can be affected. A large amount of stress, intense physical activity, lack of sleep, irregular work schedules with new shifts, lack of walks during the day greatly accelerate the process of reducing the synthesis of the sleep hormone. Often, as people age, they begin to wake up more frequently during the first stage of sleep and have difficulty falling back asleep.

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The average sleep duration for adults is seven to eight hours, but as we age, this duration decreases by about 10 minutes per decade between ages 40 and 70. After this, practically no changes occur.

The proportion of rapid sleep (REM phase) also decreases, and, conversely, the superficial phase of sleep increases. These changes affect sleep efficiency in old age, which continues to decline. The rhythm of night rest is also subject to change with age.

Many older adults begin to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier due to decreased sleep duration. For example, if they need six hours of rest, they could wake up at four in the morning. This may be due to changes in the internal biological clock or other factors.

Also read:

How much sleep do you need to get enough sleep at different ages? A neurologist and a somnologist said

What affects sleep?

One of the factors that influence the quality of sleep in old age is the lack of natural light. Many older adults may not spend much time outdoors due to limited mobility. Lack of natural light can change sleep patterns and reduce sleep quality. Short rest periods can increase during the day, making it difficult to fall asleep at night.

Pain and chronic illness can also affect sleep quality in old age. For example, osteoarthritis can cause chronic pain that prevents a person from sleeping normally. Poor night sleep and daytime sleepiness not only drain a person of energy, but can also negatively affect their overall health and well-being.

How do dreams change with age?

Dreams are directly related to the dream process. We have already discovered that they appear in the REM phase. In childhood it is long, that is why there are more images, they are pleasant, long-lasting and calm. The emotions that a person experiences and the circumstances in which they find themselves are also important.

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For example, people who nap and have a habit of resting during the day sleep better and have better and more colorful sleep. It is interesting to note that emotions play a key role in dream recall.

The stronger the emotional reaction to what happens in a dream, the more likely we are to remember it after waking up. Vivid emotions such as fear, joy or love can leave a deep mark on the memory and persist even after waking up.

Also read:

What happens if you sleep during the day and stay awake at night? let’s talk to the doctor

When we wake up during REM sleep, the emotions from dreams become especially vivid and memorable. We can easily remember the details and plots of our dreams. However, if the rest cycle ends and we wake up in a different phase, the emotions gradually disappear and the visions are forgotten.

Sleep is an integral part of life. It is important to get enough sleep and take care of your health. Then you will wake up refreshed.

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Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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