Johannes D. Veldhuis, MD


March 15, 2000

In This Article

Sleep Rhythms in Aging

Sleep fragmentation, prolonged sleep onset latency, and reduced rapid-eye movement activity are evident in older adults. Some GH-releasing hormones and peptides can trigger sleep in rats, rabbits, and humans.[14] The drugs gamma-hydroxybutyrate and ritanserine can induce both slow-wave sleep and GH secretion, at least in young adults, thereby relating sleep and GH release.[10] Conversely, the disordered sleep patterns associated with the sleep-apnea syndrome suppress GH secretion. The normal relationship between deep sleep and GH secretion may be eroded in aging. Sleep deprivation in young men elicits some of the same neuroendocrine and metabolic features of aging, such as elevated evening cortisol levels, higher sympathetic tone, and decreased glucose tolerance.