Evidence-based recommendations for the assessment and management of sleep disorders in older persons

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2009 May;57(5):761-89. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2009.02220.x.


Sleep-related disorders are most prevalent in the older adult population. A high prevalence of medical and psychosocial comorbidities and the frequent use of multiple medications, rather than aging per se, are major reasons for this. A major concern, often underappreciated and underaddressed by clinicians, is the strong bidirectional relationship between sleep disorders and serious medical problems in older adults. Hypertension, depression, cardiovascular disease, and cerebrovascular disease are examples of diseases that are more likely to develop in individuals with sleep disorders. Conversely, individuals with any of these diseases are at a higher risk of developing sleep disorders. The goals of this article are to help guide clinicians in their general understanding of sleep problems in older persons, examine specific sleep disorders that occur in older persons, and suggest evidence- and expert-based recommendations for the assessment and treatment of sleep disorders in older persons. No such recommendations are available to help clinicians in their daily patient care practices. The four sections in the beginning of the article are titled, Background and Significance, General Review of Sleep, Recommendations Development, and General Approach to Detecting Sleep Disorders in an Ambulatory Setting. These are followed by overviews of specific sleep disorders: Insomnia, Sleep Apnea, Restless Legs Syndrome, Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders, Parasomnias, Hypersomnias, and Sleep Disorders in Long-Term Care Settings. Evidence- and expert- based recommendations, developed by a group of sleep and clinical experts, are presented after each sleep disorder.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Humans
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / physiopathology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / therapy*