Definition of Sleep disorders in the elderly
Sleep disorders in the elderly involve any disrupted sleep pattern, such as problems falling or staying asleep, too much sleep, or abnormal behaviors with sleep.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Sleep problems are common in the elderly. In general, older people need 30 to 60 minutes less sleep than younger people. Their sleep is less deep and more choppy than sleep in younger people. A healthy 70 year old may wake up four times during the night without it being due to disease.
Signs and tests
The health care provider will take a history and perform a physical exam to look for medical causes and determine which type of sleep disorder is causing the problem.
Relieving chronic pain and controlling medical conditions such as frequent urination may improve sleep in some people. Treating depression can also improve sleep.
For most people, sleep improves with treatment. However, others may continue to have sleep disruptions.
David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 11/17/2010