Sleep Disorders in Elderly PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dr. Niru Prasad   
SLEEP DISORDERS IN THE ELDERLY

by Niru Prasad, MD, FAAP, PACEP
Department of Emergency Medicine

Henry Ford Hospital-West Bloomfield Center
Department of Pediatrics and Urgent Care Center

St. Joseph Mercy Hospital-Pontiac


Common sleep disorders in the elderly are due to the 

following facts:
1.	The percentage of dream sleep decreases with age.  As 

	we grow older, we sleep less.
2.	Over-the-counter  sleep  medications,  if  taken  

	over  long periods, have adverse effects on health.
3.	A heart or lung condition or depression will affect 

	sleep patterns.
4.	Taking too much tea, coffee or alcohol affects your 

	sleep at night.
5.	Sleeping pills impair your coordination which 

	increases the risk of falling and breaking bones.   

	They may also cause daytime drowsiness or sleep.
How to get a better sleep at night:
1.	Avoid arguments or major discussions before bedtime.
2.	Try going to bed at the same time every night.
3.	Wear comfortable  loose night clothes.
4.	Keep bedding and pillows comfortable.
5.	Use your shades and curtains to darken the room.
6.	Avoid heavy meals at night.  Try a light snack or 

	glass of warm milk before bedtime.
7.	Drink less liquid after supper in order to reduce the 

	frequency of urination at night.
8.	Avoid daytime sleep.
9.	Avoid alcohol before bedtime.   Once the effect of 

	alcohol wears off, you will wake up.
10.	Try to exercise daily.
11.	Create a relaxing mental routine before bedtime by 

	reading or watching television.
12.	If you are unable to sleep, go to another room for a 

	change for relaxing.

Ear wax is normally produced by the outer two-thirds of 

the ear canal.  Excess build-up of the wax may cause 

hearing loss.
1.	Do not use a Q-Tip or bobby pin to remove wax.
2.	To prevent ear wax build-up, you may occasionally use 

	a solution of one part hydrogen peroxide to 9 parts 

	water to the ears and let it drain out.
3.	For earaches, itching, discharge or hearing deficit, 

	seek medical help immediately.

ATROPHIC VAGINITIS
1.	The walls of the vagina become thin and secrete less 

	discharge after menopause due to estrogen deficiency.
2.	Symptoms include burning during urination, watery 

	discharge and pain during intercourse.
3.	Seek medical help since a local estrogen cream or 

	lubricant should relieve symptoms.
4.   	Drink plenty of fluids to reduce the burning during 

	urination.

TREMORS
1.	Tremors involving any part of the body generally 

	develop in elderly people in their sixth or seventh 

	decade of life.
2.	Tremors involving the head or hands interfere with 

	eating or drinking  and  often  increase  with  

	emotional  excitement. Generalized tremors interfere 

	with walking, causing accidents due to falls.
3.	Seek medical and neurological help since medication 

	can sometimes help reduce symptoms.

	CERUMEN (EAR WAX) IMPACTION