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Keywords:

  • insomnia;
  • elderly;
  • comorbidity;
  • circadian rhythm shifts

A good night's sleep is often more elusive as we age, because the prevalence of insomnia in older people is high. Insufficient sleep can have important effects on daytime function by increasing the need to nap, reducing cognitive ability including attention and memory, slowing response time, adversely affecting relationships with friends and family, and contributing to a general sense of being unwell. However, rather than aging per se, circadian rhythm shifts, primary sleep disorders, comorbid medical/psychiatric illnesses, and medication use cause sleep difficulties in older people, which psychosocial factors may also affect. Clinicians should ask elderly patients about satisfaction with sleep. Any sleep complaints warrant careful evaluation of contributing factors and appropriate treatment.