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Patterns of Sleep Disorders and Sedative Hypnotic Use in Seniors

Summary

Adequate sleep is required for good physical and psychological health. Sleep disturbance is common and its prevalence increases with advancing age. Physiologically, sleep in elderly adults differs from that in younger adults, both in terms of quantity and quality. Sleep disturbance in old age may be associated with many physical and psychological conditions, and less commonly can occur as a primary disturbance. It must be distinguished from the understandable but unrealistic expectations of many elderly people that they will sleep for as long and as soundly as when they were younger.

The evaluation of a patient with a sleep disorder requires full medical psychiatric and social histories, mental state and physical examinations and appropriate investigations. If present, an underlying condition should be treated. Management strategies for sleep disorders include attention to sleep hygiene, behavioural treatment and hypnotics. Ideally, a hypnotic should be prescribed for a limited period and then in the smallest effective dose.

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Mullan, E., Katona, C. & Bellew, M. Patterns of Sleep Disorders and Sedative Hypnotic Use in Seniors. Drugs & Aging 5, 49–58 (1994). https://doi.org/10.2165/00002512-199405010-00005

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Keywords

  • Sleep Disturbance
  • Sleep Disorder
  • Narcolepsy
  • Slow Wave Sleep
  • Zopiclone