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Sleep. 1985;8(3):207-21.

Sleep loss in elderly volunteers.


Sleep, performance, and sleepiness were assessed in 10 elderly volunteers (8 women, 2 men; aged 61-77 years) before, during, and after 38 h of sleep loss. Recovery night 1 sleep showed increased total sleep and stages 3 and 4 sleep and decreased stage 1 sleep, wakefulness, brief arousals, and latency to stages 3 and 4 sleep. An increase in stage 4 sleep persisted to the second recovery night. Increased arousal threshold was suggested by a lengthening of respiratory events and a reduction in arousals associated with leg movements. Performance was impaired during sleep loss, associated with an increased tendency to fall asleep. Reported sleepiness increased, except in three subjects who denied sleepiness. Latency to sleep onset declined. All measures returned to basal values after a night of sleep. Sleep in one volunteer failed to respond to sleep loss. With this exception, the response was similar to that reported in younger volunteers, although shorter-lived.

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