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Neurophysiol Clin. 1991 Oct;21(4):267-79.

[Sleep in normal aging].

[Article in French]

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Laboratoire d'EEG, hôpital Henri-Mondor, Créteil, France.


Sleep in the elderly is characterized by a decrease in the ability to stay asleep resulting in a more fragmented sleep. Spindles are less frequent and less ample, shorter, without an increase during the night contrary young subjects. Delta activity in slow wave sleep is decreased in the 0.5-2 Hz frequency band only. REM sleep occurs earlier the first REM period duration increases. The REM sleep appearance is almost uniform during the night. REMs density does not increase toward the end of the sleeping period. The sleep-wake circadian rhythm is advanced (bedtime and morning awakening occur earlier). The temperature rhythm is also advanced. The rise in temperature after the nadir begins earlier for females and the initial ascent is more rapid. This explains why women wake up earlier and sleep for shorter durations than men. The nocturnal and diurnal mean plasmatic norepinephrine values increase. The rhythm of cortisol secretion is advanced. The GH and melatonin peaks of secretion are decreased. The acrophase of melatonin rhythm is occurring later in the elderly. These results suggest a weakening of circadian structure in the course of aging and an altered relationship between the pacemakers driving melatonin and cortisol circadian rhythms.

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