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Is sleeping 12 to 15 hours a day a normal part of aging?

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Updated January 29, 2006

Question: Is sleeping 12 to 15 hours a day a normal part of aging?
My Mother is 86 years old and lives with me. She had a heart attack at age 84 and had a stint put in at that time. She seems do be doing well, but sleeps more than most people her age. On average Mom goes to bed between 8:00-9:00 PM and arises anywhere from 11:30-2:30 in the afternoon. When she wakes up she is alert and well rested. She is only awake about 6-8 hours a day. Is this a normal part of aging?
Answer: Most adults require between seven and eight hours of sleep out of a 24 hour day. Even past the age of 70 that much sleep is needed, but many older adults have a difficult time getting that much sleep a night without waking up several times.

I would first question whether your mother is sleeping all those hours she is spending in bed. Does she have extended periods where she is just lying there trying to get back to sleep?

Are there any other health issues going on with her? Is she taking any medications that could cause her to sleep that long. Could she be suffering from depression? Many depressed people sleep more than is normal.

Is your mother overweight? Does she snore? Sleep apnea is another possible solution.

While we all vary in our sleep needs and patterns, regularly sleeping more than 12 hours nightly is not considered "normal". You may want to talk with your mother about your concerns and suggest that she talk with her doctor about this.

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