What is the normal sleep pattern in the elderly?

Updated: Nov 05, 2019
  • Author: Pradeep C Bollu, MD; Chief Editor: Selim R Benbadis, MD  more...
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Answer

Answer

In elderly persons, the time spent in stage N3 sleep decreases, and the time in stage N2 compensatorily increases. Latency to fall asleep and the number and duration of overnight arousal periods increase. This often causes total time in bed to increase, which can lead to complaints of insomnia. Sleep fragmentation results from the increase in overnight arousals and may be exacerbated by the increasing number of geriatric medical conditions, including sleep apnea, musculoskeletal disorders, and cardiopulmonary disease. [4]  Older individuals are also more sensitive to auditory stimuli leading to frequent arousals from sleep. [5] Percentage of REM sleep is well preserved into healthy elderly populations. [2]


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