After several years of trying to fight a hugely irritating sleep difficulty, I've given up and just go with it.
It's called ASPD or Advanced Sleep Phase Disorder which I've written about here in the past. The short version is that can't stay awake much past early evening and then I wake in the middle of the night.
In the past year or so, the malady has morphed into my not being able to sleep more than four hours straight. Then I wake, can't go back to sleep so now I get up for a couple of hours in the middle of night and mostly read until sleep returns.
Well, sometimes. Most often, although my mind and body get tired, I don't feel sleepy again until the evening.
One of the most common complaints I hear from old people is about sleep – or lack thereof. Sometimes it is less about sleep and more about the annoyance of waking frequently to pee but that amounts to the same thing.
Many others don't fall asleep easily and then wake during the night for no reason. Recently, some researchers in Switzerland described the problem they call sleep latency:
”Sleep latency, the length of time it takes you to fall asleep at night, is shown to increase with age, but only for women, with little difference in men's speed of getting to sleep.
“'However, sleep efficiency decreases with age in both genders,' with older people more restless during sleep and more likely to wake up than younger individuals.”
The research team at the University of Lausanne studied 6,733 healthy participants ranging in age from 35 to 75 randomly selected from the population of Lausanne, exluding people with known sleep disorders.
And here is what they learned as described in a paper published in Annals of Medicine in August 2015 and reported in ScienceDaily.
”The research resulted in a number of fascinating findings. It firstly revealed that 'Aging was associated with a gradual shift towards morningness, with the older population going to bed earlier and rising earlier than their younger counterparts.
“It was also observed that they slept for less time. Despite this reduced sleep-time, the paper informs us that 'Older subjects complain less about sleepiness, and pathological sleepiness is significantly lower than younger subjects,' suggesting that they actually require less sleep.”
Complained less? Not me. It's annoying as hell to be awake and full of energy when the rest of the world is sleeping. But there is no useful treatment for ASPD and I try hard to live with it.
What does seem to be true lately is that, as the study suggests, my sleep deficit doesn't bother me as much as when I didn't get enough sleep when I was younger.
So I'm wondering, does any of this study ring true for you? How has your sleep changed as you have grown older?