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Posted: October 4th, 2022

Personalized Approaches to Management of Sleep Disorder in Elderly Patients

Personalized Approaches to Management of Sleep Disorder in Elderly Patients

Sleep disorder is a common condition that affects the quality and quantity of sleep in older adults. It can have negative impacts on their physical, mental, and emotional health, as well as their daily functioning and well-being. Sleep disorder can be caused by various factors, such as medical conditions, medications, lifestyle habits, environmental changes, and circadian rhythm disruptions. Therefore, personalized approaches to management of sleep disorder in elderly patients are needed to address the specific causes and consequences of their sleep problems.

Sleep Problems in Older Adults

According to Healthline.com , about 50 percent of people over 55 years old have difficulty falling asleep and maintaining a good night’s rest. Most studies conclude that cognitive behavioral therapy for sudden and chronic insomnia is preferable to medications, which can have unwanted side effects like nausea. However, some older adults may need pharmacological interventions to treat their underlying medical or psychiatric conditions that contribute to their sleep disorder.

Some of the common sleep problems in older adults are:

– Obstructive sleep apnea, which is characterized by brief interruptions in breathing during sleep due to the collapse of the upper airway. It can cause snoring, daytime sleepiness, headaches, and increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
– Restless leg syndrome, which is a neurological disorder that causes an overwhelming urge to move the legs during sleep. It can interfere with falling asleep and staying asleep, and cause discomfort and fatigue.
– Periodic limb movement disorder, which is similar to restless leg syndrome but involves involuntary jerking or twitching of the limbs during sleep. It can also disrupt sleep quality and duration.
– Circadian rhythm sleep disorders, which occur when the internal biological clock is not synchronized with the external environment. This can lead to difficulty falling asleep or waking up at the desired time, or feeling sleepy or alert at inappropriate times.
– Insomnia, which is the most common sleep disorder in older adults. It is defined as a persistent difficulty to fall or remain asleep despite having adequate opportunity and environment for sleep. It can cause daytime impairment, mood disturbances, cognitive decline, and increased risk of mortality.

Personalized Management Strategies

The management of sleep disorder in elderly patients should be tailored to their individual needs and preferences, taking into account their medical history, current medications, lifestyle factors, and sleep goals. Some of the possible strategies are:

– Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), which is a non-pharmacological intervention that aims to modify the thoughts and behaviors that interfere with sleep. It involves education about sleep hygiene, stimulus control, sleep restriction, relaxation techniques, cognitive restructuring, and relapse prevention.
– Pharmacological therapy, which involves the use of prescription or over-the-counter medications to treat the underlying causes or symptoms of sleep disorder. Some of the commonly used medications are benzodiazepines, non-benzodiazepine hypnotics, melatonin receptor agonists, antidepressants, antihistamines, and opioids. However, these medications should be used with caution and under medical supervision, as they may have adverse effects such as dependence, tolerance, withdrawal, rebound insomnia, cognitive impairment, falls, and interactions with other drugs.
– Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), which includes natural remedies such as herbs, supplements, aromatherapy


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