Alaska Sleep Education Center

Sleep Disorders and Aging

Posted by Jennifer Hines on Feb 5, 2020 7:44:00 AM

Sleep disturbances are very common in older people.

Are you one of millions of seniors in the US who think life would be pretty good... if you could just get some sleep?

Changes in sleep patterns may be a normal part of aging, but many other factors common in older people contribute to sleep problems. These include physical illness or symptoms, medication side effects, changes in activity or social life, and death of a spouse or loved one. 

Sleep disorders decrease quality of life in older people by causing daytime sleepiness, tiredness, and lack of energy. Poor quality of sleep also can lead to confusion, difficulty concentrating, and poor performance on tasks. Sleep disorders also are linked with premature death. The biggest sleep problem in older people is a feeling of not getting enough sleep (insomnia) or not being rested.

  • Many take longer to fall asleep than they did when younger.
  • Elderly people actually get the same amount of sleep or only slightly less sleep than they got when younger, but they have to spend more time in bed to get that amount of sleep.
  • The sensation of insomnia often is due to frequent nighttime awakening. For example, older people tend to be more easily wakened by noises than younger people.
  • Daytime napping is another cause of nighttime wakefulness. Older people are more likely to be sleepy during the day than younger people, but too much sleepiness during the day is not part of normal aging.

Normal sleep has different stages that cycle throughout the night. Sleep specialists classify these as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep.

  • REM sleep is the stage in which muscles relax most completely. Dreaming occurs during REM sleep.
  • Non-REM sleep is subdivided into stages. Stages 1 and 2 constitute light sleep and stage 3 is called deep sleep. Deeper sleep generally is more refreshing.

Sleep changes with age. Older people are less efficient sleepers and have different patterns of sleep than younger people.

  • The duration of REM sleep decreases somewhat with aging.
  • The duration of stage 1 sleep increases, as does the number of shifts into stage 1 sleep. Stages 3 decreases markedly with age in most people, especially men. In people aged 90 years or more, stage 3 may disappear completely.

Among older people, women are more likely to have insomnia than men. More than half of people older than 64 years have a sleep disorder. The rate is higher among long-term care facility residents.

Read More

Topics: alaska sleep clinic, sleep disorders, seniors

Understanding and Combating Sleep Problems That Affect Seniors

Posted by Jane Sandwood on Jun 10, 2019 12:24:00 PM

13% of men and 36% of women over the age of 65 have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, according to a study reported by Sleep Education.

Read More

Topics: sleep and elderly, life with sleep apnea, seniors

Subscribe to our Blog

Alaska Sleep Clinic's Blog

Our weekly updated blog aims to provide you with answers and information to all of your sleeping questions.

New Call-to-action
Got Sleep Troubles

New Call-to-action

New Call-to-action

 

Popular Articles

Posts by Topic

see all