Tuesday, October 23, 2007
As every sleep researcher knows, the surest way to hear complaints about sleep is to ask the elderly.
“Older people complain more about their sleep; they just do,” said Dr. Michael Vitiello, a sleep researcher who is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington. And for years, sleep scientists thought they knew what was going on: sleep starts to deteriorate in late middle age and steadily erodes from then on. It seemed so obvious that few thought to question the prevailing wisdom. Now, though, new research is leading many to change their minds. To researchers’ great surprise, it turns out that sleep does not change much from age 60 on. And poor sleep, it turns out, is not because of aging itself, but mostly because of illnesses or the medications used to treat them. “The more disorders older adults have, the worse they sleep,” said Sonia Ancoli-Israel, a professor of psychiatry and a sleep researcher at the University of California, San Diego. “If you look at older adults who are very healthy, they rarely have sleep problems.”
More, in the New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/23/health/23age.html
Then check out this cool resource--the Times Guide to Sleep Disorders in the Elderly,