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I’ve always thought that a good night’s sleep was the cure for almost anything that might ail you. That’s always been the case for me. In fact, if I don’t get eight hours a night, I pretty quickly fall apart.

That hasn’t been much of a problem, thankfully, even as I roll into my 60s. And that’s been a pleasant surprise, actually, because conventional wisdom has it that the older you get, the harder it is to get a good night’s sleep. The image of the groggy geezer falling asleep while watching the evening news because he was tossing and turning all night is pretty pervasive in our culture. But, according to a recent study by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, that’s not the case. The vast majority of seniors regularly enjoy almost seven hours of sleep a night.

“Our findings suggest that in matters regarding sleep and sleepiness, as in many other aspects of life, most seniors today are doing better than is generally thought,” said lead author Timothy Monk, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “The stereotype of most seniors going to bed at 8 p.m., sleeping very lightly and being unduly sleepy during the day may be quite inaccurate.”

The key, says Monk and his colleagues, is to retain your vitality as you grow older. Most sleep-related problems are connected to health issues, not some hardwired yearning for an 8 p.m. bedtime as soon as you hit retirement.

And that makes sense to me. The best night’s sleep for me, at least, always follows a day’s worth of physical activity. So, stay active and stay healthy and you ought to be able to snooze with the best of them — no matter how old you are.

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