Sleep Problems in the Elderly


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Abstract

Sleep problems in older adults are so common that nearly half of all hypnotic prescriptions written are for persons over 65 years old. Although normal aging affects sleep, the practitioner should evaluate the many factors that cause insomnia: medical illness, psychiatric illness, dementia, alcohol and/or polypharmacy, restless legs syndrome, periodic leg movements, and sleep apnea syndrome. Nonpharmacologic treatment of sleep disorders is preferred. The nurse practitioner can assess and manage elderly patients with sleep disorders, but they need to refer those who can benefit from evaluation to a sleep disorder center.

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