Doctors Rarely Note Sleep Problems of Elderly

Share this Article


THURSDAY, Jan. 11 (HealthDay News) — More than two-thirds of older patients report sleep problems, but doctors rarely note these complaints in the patients’ charts, a Northwestern University study finds. if(window.yzq_d==null)window.yzq_d=new Object(); window.yzq_d[‘RhuyJkSOxK4-‘]=’&U=13bn0o8ab%2fN%3dRhuyJkSOxK4-%2fC%3d571023.10008025.10765472.7635250%2fD%3dLREC%2fB%3d4139789′;

The study, published in a recent issue of the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, included 1,503 patients aged 60 and older who visited their primary-care doctors. After the visits, social workers surveyed the patients about sleep problems.

The social workers learned that 69 percent of the patients had at least one sleep complaint, and 40 percent had two or more. Forty-five percent of the patients said they had “difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or being able to sleep.”

Despite the high rate of sleep complaints among the patients, a sleep complaint was only reported by the doctor in the patient’s chart 19 percent of the time, even when the patient indicated sleep problems in all five sleep questions on the survey.

This is important, since previous research has linked sleep disorders in the elderly to poorer mental and physical health and quality of life.

“A doctor may not think that it’s very important to ask the patient about sleep. We (the researchers) hypothesize that doctors think that sleep problems are a normal part of aging, and there’s not much they can do about it,” study author Kathryn Reid, a research assistant professor of neurology at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine, said in a prepared statement.

But while some sleep problems — including a reduction in deep sleep — tend to occur with age, sleep disturbances are not an inevitable part of aging. In fact, a recent study found that among older people with exceptionally good health, only 1 percent had sleep difficulties.

“Now, a lot of studies show that not getting enough sleep can lower your metabolic function; be associated with cardiovascular problems, cancer and breast cancer in women; and increase our mortality. Sleep deprivation also increases your sensitivity to pain,” Reid said.

Treatment options for sleep disorders may include meditation, exercise and bright light or evening activity.

More information

The National Institute on Aging has more about sleep and aging.

SOURCE: HealthDay News

Posted in: Uncategorized

Leave a Reply