How much sleep you need is as unique as your voice or your walk. While the average adult needs between 7-1/2 and 8 hours nightly, some do fine with just six while others need nine or more.

Experts divide sleep into rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep. REM sleep is when we dream. Non-REM sleep has three phases: a light doze, a more restorative middle sleep, and the health-promoting slow-wave deep sleep. As we age, sleep becomes less satisfying as middle sleep replaces slow-wave sleep.

The elderly seem to need less sleep, but their tendency toward nighttime wakefulness often results from the aches and pains, restless legs and breathing problems, that accompany old age. Or it may be caused by a disruption in circadian rhythms. This is why seniors nap in the day. Exposure to bright sunlight in the late afternoon and a bit of exercise can frequently help to reset the body’s sleep clock.

Not that napping is a bad thing. It can increase alertness, improve performance and mood, and reduce fatigue. If you’re sleepy or fatigued, by all means take a nap.Sweet dreams!

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