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Sleep and Aging

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Encyclopedia of Gerontology and Population Aging


Sleep is a reversible state characterized by immobility, decreased responsiveness to stimuli, and altered consciousness.


In Greek mythology and ancient Egypt, sleep was often likened to death. Research has since debunked the idea that sleep is a temporary death; today, scientists recognize that sleep is crucial for overall health and vitality. As Thomas Dekker (1609) put it, “Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.”

By some estimates, more than 100 million Americans regularly achieve poor sleep quality. People often intuit that poor sleep means short sleep (e.g., <7 h/night), but it is also possible for adults to sleep 8–9 h/night, feel unrefreshed, and experience excessive daytime sleepiness (Buysse 2014). Clearly, sleep quantity need not equal sleep quality, as is the case for individuals who lie in bed for 9 h a night, but have difficulty falling asleep and maintaining sleep throughout the night (i.e., poor sleep efficiency).


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Correspondence to Michael Scullin .

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Scott, K., Hsiou, D., Scullin, M. (2019). Sleep and Aging. In: Gu, D., Dupre, M. (eds) Encyclopedia of Gerontology and Population Aging. Springer, Cham.

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  • Print ISBN: 978-3-319-69892-2

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