Help pack a million meals for struggling seniors on 9-11. Volunteer today


AARP Staying Sharp: Keep Your Brain Healthy


The tablet with free 24/7 customer support. Learn More


Military and Veterans Discount



AARP Games - Play Now!

Learning centers

Get smart strategies for managing health conditions.



Heart Disease


Most Popular


Health Discovery

People Sleep Better As They Age

Study shows less fatigue, sleeping interruptions in older adults

Here's another reason to look forward to turning 80 — you may start sleeping better than you did at any other point in your life.

Surprised? So were the authors of a recent myth-busting study that found that the older you are, the better you sleep.

Sign up for the AARP Health Newsletter.

In the world's largest study of sleep quality and health, reported in the journal Sleep, researchers analyzed survey results from nearly 156,000 adults ages 18 and older. Healthy older people reported fewer sleep disturbances and less daytime fatigue than younger people — and those in their 80s sometimes had the fewest complaints of all. "Older people without illness or depression should not have trouble sleeping," says psychologist and lead author Michael Grandner of the Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine. "If they do, they may want to see a sleep specialist." Sleep disturbances may be a symptom of underlying illness and should not be ignored.

The study was the first to compare sleep problems across age groups. Researchers asked participants how often in the past two weeks they had felt tired, slept too much or had trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Young men, ages 18 to 24, complained the most about sleep difficulties and daytime tiredness, while middle-aged adults reported a slight bump in sleep difficulties and fatigue.

Women's sleep problems peaked during child-bearing and midlife years — no surprise to super-moms and women in menopause. But after age 60, they felt better rested than they'd ever felt before.

"We expected to confirm that sleep difficulty increases with age, as some other studies have shown," Grandner says. But while previous studies only focused on sleep disorders such as insomnia or sleep apnea, this study looked at sleep and related daytime difficulties in general. Healthy older adults may be more satisfied with sleep because they have more flexible schedules and less lifestyle stress, such as child-rearing and workplace problems, Grandner says. "Or it could be that the current older generation is more stoic and less likely to complain than their younger counterparts."

Still, older adults often take sleep difficulties for granted and may not mention them to their doctors, says Michael Twery, director of the federal government's National Center on Sleep Disorders Research. "That's a mistake," he says. "Poor sleep may be a red flag for potentially critical medical conditions."

He suggests a sleep diary — noting sleep duration, nightly awakenings, number of daily naps — if you're not sleeping well. "There's no blood test" for poor sleep, he adds, "so it's up to you to give the doctor detailed information about how sleep is affecting your health."

Also of interest: Sleeping pills linked to early death, cancer.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

member benefit aarp hear usa

Members save 15% on easy listening devices and more at the HearUSA Hearing Shop.

membership schwanns discount

Members save $20 on their first grocery delivery order from Schwan's Home Service™.

reebok membership benefit discount

Members can save 20% on their entire purchase at Reebok Outlet Stores and

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change. 

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points