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Psychogeriatrics. 2018 May;18(3):155-165. doi: 10.1111/psyg.12319.

Sleep disorders in the elderly: a growing challenge.

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Division of Sleep Research, Biomedical Technology Wing, Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, Trivandrum, India.


In contrast to newborns, who spend 16-20 h in sleep each day, adults need only about sleep daily. However, many elderly may struggle to obtain those 8 h in one block. In addition to changes in sleep duration, sleep patterns change as age progresses. Like the physical changes that occur during old age, an alteration in sleep pattern is also a part of the normal ageing process. As people age, they tend to have a harder time falling asleep and more trouble staying asleep. Older people spend more time in the lighter stages of sleep than in deep sleep. As the circadian mechanism in older people becomes less efficient, their sleep schedule is shifted forward. Even when they manage to obtain 7 or 8 h sleep, they wake up early, as they have gone to sleep quite early. The prevalence of sleep disorders is higher among older adults. Loud snoring, which is more common in the elderly, can be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnoea, which puts a person at risk for cardiovascular diseases, headaches, memory loss, and depression. Restless legs syndrome and periodic limb movement disorder that disrupt sleep are more prevalent in older persons. Other common medical problems of old age such as hypertension diabetes mellitus, renal failure, respiratory diseases such as asthma, immune disorders, gastroesophageal reflux disease, physical disability, dementia, pain, depression, and anxiety are all associated with sleep disturbances.


circadian rhythm; insomnia; old age; sleep pattern; sleep rhythm; sleep stages

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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