The idea that people need less sleep as they get older is a myth, a study has found.
Researchers found that middle aged and elderly people need as much shut-eye as younger people if they want to keep a clear head the next day. However, they are more likely to suffer from an interrupted night's sleep because of health problems - and are forced to adapt by catnapping, or coping with tiredness in the day, the research showed. The findings to challenge the long established belief that the amount of sleep we need falls as we approach middle and old age.
Dr Sean Drummond, a psychologist at the University of California, San Diego, said: 'It's a fallacy. The quantity of sleep that we need does not go down as we age, but the ability to sleep in one chunk does get lost. It is a myth that older people need less sleep. As people age they as much sleep as they did when they were young, but they often find that health problems impact on their sleep.'