Aging and Sleep

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in sleep and circadian rhythms as we age is not clearly understood. Many researchers believe it may have to do with light exposure and treatment options for advanced sleep phase syndrome typically include bright light therapy.

The prevalence of insomnia is also higher among older adults. According to NSF's 2003 Sleep in America poll, 44% of older persons experience one or more of the nighttime symptoms of insomnia at least a few nights per week or more. Insomnia may be chronic (lasting over one month) or acute (lasting a few days or weeks) and is often times related to an underlying cause such as a medical or psychiatric condition.

It is worthwhile to speak to your doctor about insomnia symptoms and about any effects these symptoms may have. Your doctor can help assess how serious a problem it is and what to do about it. For instance, cutting back on caffeine and napping may help solve the problem. If insomnia is creating serious effects, complicating other conditions or making a person too tired to function normally during their waking hours, this would suggest that it is important to seek treatment. When effects are serious and untreated, insomnia can take a toll on a person's health. People with insomnia can experience excessive daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, and increased risk for accidents and illness as well as significantly reduced quality of life. Both behavioral therapies and prescription medications singly or in combination are considered effective means to treat insomnia; the proper choice should be matched to a variety of factors in discussion with a physician.

Snoring is the primary cause of sleep disruption for approximately 90 million American adults; 37 million on a regular basis. Snoring is most commonly associated with persons who are overweight and the condition often becomes worse with age. Loud snoring is particularly serious as it can be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and is associated with high blood pressure and other health problems. With OSA, breathing stops - sometimes for as long as 10-60 seconds - and the amount of oxygen in the blood drops,