It's a myth elderly need less sleep, doctor says
Published 23/02/2010 | 05:00
The idea that people need less sleep as they get older is "a myth", an expert has said.
Older people appear to need less sleep because not all their sleeping occurs at night, psychologist Dr Sean Drummond said.
They tend to wake up often at the night and nod off throughout the day, while young people need uninterrupted night-time sleep to function well.
Dr Drummond studied sleep's impact on learning ability in two groups of 33 older and 29 younger individuals with average ages of 68 and 27.
Only the younger volunteers needed to get their sleep in "one consolidated chunk" to perform a memory task.
"The ability to sleep in one chunk overnight goes down as we age but the amount of sleep we need to function well does not change," the expert said.