The sleep pattern changes in parallel with aging. The time spent in deep sleep (slow-wave sleep) is decreased, and in the very elderly it may be absent. The number of awakenings increases with aging and in many elderly falling asleep after such awakenings becomes increasingly difficult. Elderly persons are therefore more troubled by spending time in the waking state in bed than younger adults. This decline in sleep maintenance is to some extent an expression of the age-related disorganization of the circadian sleep/wake rhythm.
However, sleep quality in the elderly seems to be more attributable to health-related factors than to age per se. In a study of the influence of somatic health, mental health and age on sleep in a group of elderly men and women, it was found that in men, more severe sleep disturbances were associated with poorer somatic health, poorer mental health, and increasing age, in that order of importance, and that in women, they were correspondingly associated with poorer somatic health and poorer mental health, but there was no further deterioration of sleep with age (Asplund, 2000).
There is an age-related increase in daytime sleepiness in the elderly, and those with poor night's sleep are more sleepy in the daytime than those with good sleep (see Figure 71.2) (Asplund, 1996).
Severe disruption of the sleep/wake cycle has been observed in very old people suffering from a serious illness, dementia, or both conditions. In a classic study in a nursing home population it was found that most people spent about 40 minutes per hour sleeping at night and about 20 minutes per hour in the daytime.
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A Guide to Natural Sleep Remedies. Many of us experience the occasional night of sleeplessness without any consequences. It is when the occasional night here and there becomes a pattern of several nights in arow that you are faced with a sleeping problem. Repeated loss of sleep affects all areas of your life The physical, the mental, and theemotional. Sleep deprivation can affect your overall daily performance and may even havean effecton your personality.