Sleep Disorders in the Elderly

Jeanne E. Maglione and Sonia Ancoli-Israel

in The Oxford Handbook of Sleep and Sleep Disorders

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780195376203
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Sleep Disorders in the Elderly


Complaints about sleep are common in elderly adults. While changes in sleep architecture occur with normal aging, complaints about sleep are often related to pathological and treatable sleep disturbances. Primary sleep disturbances occurring in older adults include circadian rhythm disturbances, sleep-disordered breathing, REM sleep behavior disorder, restless legs syndrome, and periodic limb movements in sleep. Particularly in older adults, sleep disturbances are likely to represent a multifactorial syndrome in which medical illness, psychiatric illness, and medications may also play a role. Sleep complaints necessitate the attention of the clinician, as they are associated with poor outcomes. Because treatment strategies differ depending on the etiology of the sleep disturbance, a careful and systematic approach to diagnosis is crucial. This chapter will review the normal changes in sleep that occur with age and sleep disorders frequently seen in elderly adults. Diagnosis and treatment strategies will be discussed.

Keywords: sleep; insomnia; elderly; aging; dementia; sleep-disordered breathing; REM sleep behavior disorder; periodic limb movements in sleep; restless legs syndrome; advanced sleep phase disorder

Article.  13903 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Clinical Psychology

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