Sleep and Geriatrics: Sleep & Sleep Disorders in the Elderly

Getting enough quality sleep is critical for one’s overall health and well-being, regardless of age. However, as we age, changes in our sleep pattern and architecture inevitably occur, so a deeper understanding of sleep and disorders in the elderly is important. 

In the Sleep Medicine Textbook 2nd Edition, an entirely new chapter was added to address this point. Below we highlight the summaries of the chapter on Sleep and Geriatrics. 

Sleep in the elderly

“Characteristics of human sleep change with ageing. Even outside of any pathological condition, the human circadian system and sleep regulation become less robust as the years go by. This results in changes in sleep architecture with a tendency to phase advance, decreased total sleep time, decreased sleep efficiency, and increased sleep fragmentation. In terms of electrophysiology, ageing is associated with a decreased slow-wave activity reflecting shallower sleep and a reduced density of fast spindles and K-complexes during non-rapid eye movement sleep, which may potentially have effects on synaptic plasticity and memory consolidation. Throughout a lifetime, men and women sleep differently due to distinct patterns of hormonal signalling on the brain and peripheral cells populations responsible for sleep homeostasis. However, as for younger adults the role of dietary habits and lifestyle on sleep quality should not be overlooked. Dream-like activity and dream recollection tend to become poorer with age. Sleep quality and cognition are linked in a two-way relationship, and some subtle sleep variations can be useful to monitor for certain neurodegenerative diseases. However, in most cases, neither subjective nor objective alterations are accompanied by specific complaints because ageing induces tolerance to these gradual changes. It is therefore important to consider the normal part of age-related sleep changes to ultimately detect and adequately manage sleep disorders when they occur.” 

Summary by: 
Adrien Lorette (2021). N. Sleep and Geratrics 1. Sleep in the elderly. In Bassetti, C., McNicholas, W., Paunio, T., & Peigneux, P. (Eds.). Sleep Medicine Textbook (2nd ed., pp. 1003-1011). Regensburg: European Sleep Research Society. 

Sleep disorders in the elderly 

“Old age does not have the privilege of specific sleep disorders, or of protection against most of the problems that can be observed in younger people in much purer form. Therefore, one might want to compress all of the topics collected throughout this volume in our present chapter. However, we will focus on diagnostic issues in elderly patients with sleeping problems, on the development of cognitive impairment, nocturnal disturbances in demented patients, and on their treatment.” 

Summary by: 
Dirk Schwerthöffer (2021). N. Sleep and Geratrics 2. Sleep disorders in the elderly. In Bassetti, C., McNicholas, W., Paunio, T., & Peigneux, P. (Eds.). Sleep Medicine Textbook (2nd ed., pp. 1013-1020). Regensburg: European Sleep Research Society.

To dive even further into this topic, we invite you to purchase your very own copy of the Sleep Medicine Textbook 2nd Edition, now available in print and digital versions.


Sleep Europe 2022 Abstract Submission

We invite you to submit your abstracts for the 26th Congress of the ESRS. All accepted abstracts will be published in the Journal of Sleep Research as well as in the interactive programme online. This will allow your research findings to be seen by professionals around the globe.
Application Deadline: 12 April 2022, 23:59 CET
More details here.

Sleep Europe 2026 Bid Manual Available

The ESRS Board cordially invites European national sleep societies and cities/venues wishing to host the Sleep Europe 2026 congress to present an attractive bid document to the ESRS. At least 1,800 people are expected to participate in this meeting.
Application Deadline: 29 April 2022
More details here.

Job Opportunity – Fellowship in Sleep Medicine

The Sleep Research Institute is offering a 1-year full-time Fellowship in Sleep Medicine position in Madrid, starting no later than 1-May 2022. Interested in applying for this exciting opportunity?
More details here.

Recent publications from ESRS members

  1. Angerer et al. (2022)Does the Heart Fall Asleep?—Diurnal Variations in Heart Rate Variability in Patients with Disorders of Consciousness. Brain Sciences. 
  2. Barateau et al. (2022). Linking clinical complaints and objective measures of Disrupted Nighttime Sleep in Narcolepsy type 1. Sleep. 
  3. Green et al. (2022). Comparing in-lab full polysomnography for diagnosing sleep apnea in children to home sleep apnea tests (HSAT) with an online video attending technician. Sleep Biol Rhythms. 
  4. Angerer et al. (2022). From Dawn to Dusk – Mimicking Natural Daylight Exposure Improves Circadian Rhythm Entrainment in Patients with Severe Brain Injury. Sleep. 
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