Changes as We Age
Like many bodily functions, sleep changes as we get older. Infants get about twice as much REM sleep as adults, in part because they sleep much more. In infants and children, a greater portion of their cycle is taken up by N3 sleep, a stage that may be associated with the release of growth hormone. Children’s sleep cycle is also shorter, around 50 minutes. Another change is that sleep quality declines over the years. This seems to be due to common, small sleep disruptions, like moving position, that are so subtle we don’t even remember them. “As we get older, these little disturbances seem to be more disruptive to our sleep,” says Muehlbach. Some sleep disorders, like sleep apnea and acting out dreams, are more prevalent in older people.
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