Late Shift Workers
Not only do Americans give up a good night's rest in an attempt to keep up with the hectic pace of the electronic age, many, including late shift healthcare, military and public safety workers, nuclear power plant operators, medical residents, and long-haul truck drivers, are building daily schedules against the body's natural circadian rhythm. That rhythm dictates that the longest period of sleepiness occurs during the hours of 2:00 am to 4:00 am. Thus, people who work the late shift lose out on the time that the body is programmed for the deepest and most beneficial sleep.
The elderly, too, cope with a special set of difficulties that keeps them from getting the sleep they need. Aging brings on a host of health-related problems that interrupt sleep, such as having pain from conditions like arthritis and taking medicines with side effects that disturb rest. More than any other population, the elderly rely on medicines that keep them up at night. Moreover, a more sedentary lifestyle doesn't allow for the expenditure of energy that results in restful sleep. Lastly, the brain doesn't allow for the same degree of deep sleep per night as enjoyed in youth.
But none of this means that the elderly don't need as much rest as everyone else. The combination of conditions that change the sleep habits of the elderly only indicates that they need to alter their sleep habits so that they get enough shut-eye.