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Exp Gerontol. 2000 Dec;35(9-10):1229-37.

Circadian and sleep disturbances in the elderly.

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Netherlands Institute for Brain Research, Meibergdreef 33, 1105 AZ, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


The incidence of disturbed sleep is strongly increased in healthy and demented elderly. Age-related alterations in the circadian timing system appear to contribute strongly to these problems. With increasing age, a lack of input to the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), the biological clock of the brain, may accelerate de-activation of neurons involved in the generation of 24-h rhythm or output of this rhythm. This process appears to be reversible, since supplementation of stimuli that impinge on the SCN can re-activate these neurons and ameliorate disturbances in the sleep-wake rhythm.

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