Sleep Disorders and the Elderly

Thursday, April 24, 2014

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. Dr. Edward Hill tells us more about sleep disorders among the elderly in todays 60 Second Housecall.

Dr. Hill:

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 than sleep in younger people.

The causes of disordered sleep may be very different than those in younger people.

Some common causes of sleep problems in the elderly include:

Depression, with early morning awakening

Chronic arthritis pain at night

Napping during the day

Prescription or over-the-counter medications

Increased urination at night. Older people excrete most of their urine volume at night.

Drinking alcohol or caffeine at night

Congestive heart failure which worsens when you lie down and fluid shifts to the lungs, and

Night time confusion from disorientation

The treatment of each of these causes of disordered sleep depends on the specific problem. Sleeping pills can have significant side effects in an elderly person. It is important to provide your physician a detailed pattern of the sleeping trouble, description of your symptoms, and an accurate record of medications and food intake.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Im Dr. Edward Hill.