Short answer: grandma or grandpa needs just as much sleep as they are younger.
Chances are that your grandmother or grandfather is wandering about the house at 3 or 4 in the morning and getting on with their day. Could this be because the elderly need less sleeping hours?
The truth is that although sleeping patterns change throughout our lifetime, the amount of sleep that adults need remains virtually the same after age 20. This means that older people actually do need to get their 8 hours of sleep a day. It may seem that elders sleep less because of the time they wake up at, but according to the National Sleep Foundation, older people simply tend to go to sleep earlier. Therefore, they can experience advanced sleep phase syndrome, which means they get sleepier earlier in the evening.
This is the reason many of our older relatives tend to take a nap a couple hours after lunch or just before dinner. But of course, these unstable patterns such as unexpected naps can alter our circadian rhythm or ‘body clock’. Disruptions to our circadian rhythm can unstabilize alertness, eating habits, digestion and other important bodily functions, and cause difficulty falling asleep at night, resulting in midnight walks or waking up to use the toilet.
It’s important that everyone gets their 8 hours of sleep at night and follows their natural body clock. This way, people can avoid drowsiness and prevent late-night accidents.