Sleep disorders in the elderly: Diagnosis and management

J Gen Fam Med. 2017 Mar 30;18(2):61-71. doi: 10.1002/jgf2.27. eCollection 2017 Apr.


Compared with younger people, elderly people show age-related sleep changes, including an advanced sleep phase and decreased slow-wave sleep, which result in fragmented sleep and early awakening. Multiple etiologies contribute to insomnia in the elderly, consistent with the observation that elderly people are likely to have comorbid conditions and medications. When elderly individuals complain of insomnia, it is important to assess treatable medical conditions and medication use that may be responsible for the insomnia before the use of hypnotics is initiated. Also, screening for primary sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea syndrome, restless legs syndrome and rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder, is essential. We review sleep disorders commonly observed in the elderly and describe their diagnosis and management.

Keywords: diagnosis; elderly; management; sleep disorders.

Publication types

  • Review