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Sleep Disorders

Suggestions for a Good Night's Sleep

Sleep Disorders

We all look forward to a good night's sleep. Getting enough sleep and sleeping well help us stay healthy. Many older people do not enjoy a good night's sleep on a regular basis. They have trouble falling or staying asleep. Sleep patterns change as we age, but disturbed sleep and waking up tired every day is not part of normal aging. In fact, troubled sleep may be a sign of emotional or physical disorders and something you should talk about with a doctor or sleep specialist.

Sleep and Aging

There are two kinds of sleep in a normal sleep cycle - rapid eye movement or dreaming sleep (REM) and quiet sleep (non-REM). Everyone has about four or five cycles of REM and non-REM sleep a night. For older people, the amount of time spent in the deepest stages of non-REM sleep decreases. This may explain why older people are thought of as light sleepers. Although the amount of sleep each person needs varies widely, the average range is between 7 and 8 hours a nig...More

Fast Facts: Learn! Fast!

What Sleep Disorders are there?

  • All Sleep Disorders involve daytime stress and trouble with work, school or daily activities because of sleep problems during the night.
  • People with a sleep disorder often have depression, anxiety, trouble thinking, remembering or learning information that need to be treated along with the particular sleep problem.
  • Ongoing sleep issues like insomnia (trouble falling asleep) or excessive (too much) sleeping can lead to other mental health problems, so getting help is important if you suffer from these conditions.
  • There are 10 Sleep Disorders:
    • Insomnia Disorder - having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or going back to sleep after waking up.
    • Hypersomnolence Disorder - being really sleepy even though you slept at least 7 hours at a time
    • Narcolepsy - being unable to resist going to sleep or taking a nap
    • Breathing-Related Sleep Disorders - this includes 3 issues:
      • Obstructive Sleep Apnea Hypopnea - the person takes involuntary pauses in breathing during sleep where air cannot flow in or out of their nose or mouth. This causes them to be very tired during the day.
      • Central Sleep Apnea - when the brain doesn't send the right signals to start the breathing muscles during sleep, which causes the person to temporarily stop breathing.
      • Sleep-Related Hypoventilation - the person has decreased breathing and leads to an increase in blood carbon dioxide (CO2) levels.
    • Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder - disruptions in a person's cycle of sleeping and being awake. This often happens because of a work schedule (for example, working overnight and sleeping during the day) that results in being very tired and sleeping a lot, having trouble going to or staying asleep (insomnia) or both.
    • Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) Sleep Arousal Disorders - the person has either Sleepwalking or Sleep Terrors while sleeping.
    • Nightmare Disorder - repeated and long dreams that usually involve trying to avoid threats to survival or physical safety.
    • Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep Behavior Disorder - repeated episodes of vocalization (loud talking, yelling or screaming) and/or complex motor behaviors (kicking, punching, jumping out of bed, etc.) while asleep.
    • Restless Legs Syndrome - an urge to move the legs during rest or inactivity due to uncomfortable or unpleasant sensations in the legs (a "pins and needles" type of feeling or crawling, tingling, burning or itching sensations).
    • Substance/Medication-Induced Sleep Disorder - severe problems with sleep that started during or soon after using too much of a substance or while trying to stop using it. This could include alcohol, caffeine, sedatives, opioids, stimulants, cocaine, tobacco, or other medications.

For more information

What are some tips for getting a good night's sleep?

  • Follow a regular schedule - go to sleep and get up at the same time. Try not to nap too much during the day - you might be less sleepy at night.
  • Try to exercise at regular times each day.
  • Try to get some natural light in the afternoon each day.
  • Be careful about what you eat. Don't drink beverages with caffeine late in the day. Caffeine is a stimulant and can keep you awake. Also, if you like a snack before bed, a warm beverage and a few crackers may help.
  • Don't drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes to help you sleep. Even small amounts of alcohol can make it harder to stay asleep. Smoking is dangerous for many reasons including the hazard of falling asleep with a lit cigarette. The nicotine in cigarettes is also a stimulant.
  • Create a safe and comfortable place to sleep. Make sure there are locks on all doors and smoke alarms on each floor. A lamp that's easy to turn on and a phone by your bed may be helpful. The room should be dark, well ventilated, and as quiet as possible.
  • Develop a bedtime routine. Do the same things each night to tell your body that it's time to wind down. Some people watch the evening news, read a book, or soak in a warm bath.
  • Use your bedroom only for sleeping. After turning off the light, give yourself about 15 minutes to fall asleep. If you are still awake and not drowsy, get out of bed. When you get sleepy, go back to bed.
  • Try not to worry about your sleep. Some people find that playing mental games is helpful. For example, think black - a black cat on a black velvet pillow on a black corduroy sofa, etc.; or tell yourself it's 5 minutes before you have to get up and you're just trying to get a few extra winks.

For more information


News Articles

  • CPAP Doesn't Alter Renal Function in Coexisting OSA, CVD

    For individuals with co-existing obstructive sleep apnea and cardiovascular disease, continuous positive airway pressure does not alter renal function, according to a study published online July 25 in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. More...

  • Preterm Birth Risk Spikes in Mothers With Sleep Disorders

    Pregnant women with apnea or insomnia have roughly twice the risk of delivering before 34 weeks, study finds. More...

  • Seeing Video of Self Struggling to Breathe Ups CPAP Adherence

    Sleep apnea patients are more likely to use their continuous positive airway pressure machines after they see a video of themselves fighting to breathe at night, according to a study presented recently at the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (SLEEP 2017), held from June 3 to 7 in Boston. More...

  • Videotaping Sleepers Raises CPAP Use

    Viewing the tapes helped convince patients to stick with the sleep apnea treatment, study found. More...

  • AAIC: Alzheimer Biomarkers Up With Sleep Disordered Breathing

    Biological changes in the brain may underlie a relationship between sleep disordered breathing and Alzheimer's disease, according to new research. A trio of studies on the matter were scheduled for presentation at the annual Alzheimer's Association International Conference, held from July 16 to 20 in London. More...

  • 44 More
    • CPAP Mask Not a Prescription for Heart Troubles

      Device helped with sleep apnea, but didn't cut deaths from cardiovascular causes, study finds. More...

    • Health Tip: Get the Facts on Alcohol and Sleep

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    • Health Tip: If You Have Sleep Apnea

      Here are self-care suggestions More...

    • Sleep Apnea Linked to Diabetic Retinopathy in Type 2 Diabetes

      For patients with type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea is associated with sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy and with progression to pre-/proliferative diabetic retinopathy, according to a study published online June 8 in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. More...

    • SLEEP: Helpful Hints From Bed Partner Can Exacerbate Insomnia

      Supportive and well-meaning behaviors from bed partners of people with insomnia may backfire, as their advice can often contradict treatment recommendations, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (SLEEP 2017), held from June 3 to 7 in Boston. More...

    • Bed Partner Often Fuels Loved One's Insomnia

      Well-intentioned tips to encourage better sleep often backfire, study finds. More...

    • Loneliness May Lead to Sleepless Nights

      Study suggests that feeling alone may make one feel less safe, unable to rest. More...

    • Warming Climate, More Sleepless Nights?

      Poor and elderly will feel the heat the most, study predicts. More...

    • Sleepless Nights Could Pose Heart Risk Dangers

      Less than 6 hours a night doubled chances of dying from heart disease, stroke, study suggests. More...

    • Sleep Apnea Reporting Low Among Individuals Aged ≥65

      From 1993 to 2011, physicians reported sleep apnea in 0.3 percent of all office visits among individuals aged 65 years and older, according to a study published online May 4 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. More...

    • Sleep Apnea May Boost Odds of Irregular Heartbeat

      Study shows the more someone stops breathing at night, the greater the risk of atrial fibrillation. More...

    • Docs May Not Spot Sleep Apnea, Insomnia in Blacks

      Reasons why remain unclear, and disparity needs more research, study suggests. More...

    • Sleep Apnea May Boost Pregnancy Complications

      Longer hospital stays, more hysterectomies tied to the sleep disorder, study says. More...

    • Sleepless Nights, Unhealthy Hearts?

      Chronic wakefulness might leave its mark on cardiovascular system, study suggests. More...

    • Curbing Sleep Apnea Might Mean Fewer Night Trips to Bathroom

      Research finds many men's urinary habits benefit when CPAP mask therapy is used. More...

    • Health Tip: Slipping Back Into Sleep

      Suggestions for when you wake up at night More...

    • Past Prescribing Behavior Predicts Choice of Insomnia Rx

      In treatment of insomnia, historical preference for a certain medication is highly predictive of future prescribing behavior, according to a study published online Feb. 9 in Scientific Reports. More...

    • What Guides Docs' Sleeping Pill Picks? 'Same Old Same Old,' Study Says

      Researchers asked why one popular drug is prescribed over another. More...

    • Skimp on Sleep and You Just May Wind Up Sick

      Study of twins showed when someone is sleep-deprived, immune system weakens. More...

    • Sleepless Nights Linked to Asthma Later in Life

      Adults with chronic insomnia 3 times more likely to develop the respiratory disorder, study suggests. More...

    • The ABCs of Good Zzzzzs

      Expert panel defines a good night's sleep. More...

    • Level 3 Polysomnography Data Noninferior for OSA

      For patients with suspected obstructive sleep apnea, use of level 3 polysomnography data with fewer recording channels is noninferior to level 1 polysomnography, according to a study published online Jan. 24 in the Annals of Internal Medicine. More...

    • Jury Still Out on Whether to Screen All Adults for Sleep Apnea

      Not enough data to advise for or against such screening, U.S. experts in prevention and medicine say. More...

    • Health Tip: 5 Things to Help You Sleep Soundly

      Sleep expert recommendations More...

    • Many Misuse OTC Sleep Aids: Survey

      Consumer Reports finds the non-prescription drugs are taken for periods far longer than their intended use. More...

    • Homeless, And Often Sleepless Too

      4 in 10 report insomnia, survey reveals. More...

    • Health Tip: Struggling in the Morning?

      Suggestions for better sleep More...

    • VA ECHO Program Feasible for Management of Sleep Disorders

      A U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes program is feasible for increasing comfort in managing common sleep complaints, according to research published online Dec. 15 in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society. More...

    • Study Finds Genetic Link Between Sleep Problems and Obesity

      Restless legs syndrome, schizophrenia also have biological ties to sleep disorders, research suggests. More...

    • Study Sees Link Between Insomnia, Asthma

      Lack of sleep also tied to more weight and more frequent health visits for those with the airway disease. More...

    • Web-Based Help for Insomnia Shows Promise

      Interactive program aims to build better sleep habits, researchers say. More...

    • Health Tip: When Sleep is Interrupted

      What weary parents can do More...

    • CPAP Improves Asthma Control, QoL for Adults With Asthma, OSA

      For adults with asthma and obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, continuous positive airway pressure is associated with improved asthma control, quality of life, and lung function, according to a study published online Oct. 12 in Allergy. More...

    • Sleep Apnea May Boost Risk for Post-Op Problems

      Certain patients should be checked for the disorder before having surgery, researchers say. More...

    • Home-Based CBT Program for Sleep Feasible in Pregnancy

      A home-based cognitive-behavioral training program for sleep during late pregnancy is feasible and effective, according to a study published in the November issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology. More...

    • Health Tip: Making the Transition to Sleep

      Suggestions for a better night's rest More...

    • Sleep Troubles, Heart Troubles?

      American Heart Association says it's too soon to say what's the optimal amount of shut-eye. More...

    • Why Some Women Find Good Sleep Tough to Get

      Researchers rule out menstrual cycle as the culprit. More...

    • Sleep Apnea Diagnoses Up Among Outpatients From 1993 to 2010

      From 1993 to 2010 there was an increase in the diagnosis of sleep apnea in U.S. ambulatory practice visits, according to a study published online Sept. 1 in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society. More...

    • For Those With Sleep Apnea, Maybe It's Time for a Driving Test

      Researchers hope to ID those with higher crash risk due to fatigue. More...

    • Mouse Study Suggests Brain Circuit Involved in Sleep-Wake Cycle

      Researchers hope findings may lead to better sleep treatments. More...

    • Risk of Cardiovascular Events Not Reduced With CPAP Use

      While treatment with continuous positive airway pressure reduces sleep apnea symptoms, it does not lower users' long-term odds for cardiovascular events, according to a study published online Aug. 28 in the New England Journal of Medicine. The research was published to coincide with the annual European Society of Cardiology Congress, held from Aug. 27 to 31 in Rome. More...

    • Nighttime Sleep Disturbance Common in Chronic Pain

      Individuals suffering from chronic pain frequently have nighttime sleep disturbance, and it might be exacerbated by opioid treatment, according to a study published online Aug. 22 in Anaesthesia. More...

    • Associated Professional Sleep Societies, June 5-9, 2010

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