Sleep Disorders and Aging
Sleep Disorders and Aging Overview
Are you one of millions of seniors in the US who think life would be pretty good... if you could just get some sleep? Sleep disturbances are very common in older people. Changes in sleep patterns may be a normal part of aging, but many other factors common in older people contribute to sleep problems. These include physical illness or symptoms, medication side effects, changes in activity or social life, and death of a spouse or loved one. Sleep disorders decrease quality of life in older people by causing daytime sleepiness, tiredness, and lack of energy. Poor quality of sleep also can lead to confusion, difficulty concentrating, and poor performance on tasks. Sleep disorders also are linked with premature death. The biggest sleep problem in older people is a feeling of not getting enough sleep (insomnia) or not being rested.
Normal sleep has different stages that cycle throughout the night. Sleep specialists classify these as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep.
Sleep changes with age. Older people are less efficient sleepers and have different patterns of sleep than younger people.
Among older people, women are more likely to have insomnia than men. More than half of people older than 64 years have a sleep disorder. The rate is higher among long-term care facility residents.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/20/2014
Subir Vij, MD, MPH
Anthony M Murro, MD
Mary L Windle, PharmD
Carmel Armon, MD, MHS, MSc
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