Sleep is a barometer of good health in the elderly.
Sleep problems in the elderly are controlled by various external and internal factors.
"Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together"
- Thomas Decker, English dramatist (1572-1632)
As we grow old a number of physiological changes takes place that alters both our looks and the body functions.
Generally these changes slow down all the organ systems, due to a gradual decline in cellular activity. In some individuals, the level of decline may be rapid and dramatic; in others, the changes are much less significant.
The effects of these changes also differ widely among individuals. While approximately 85% of the aging population experience chronic conditions, only about 20% experience significant impairment in their ability to function.
Sleep disturbances in the elderly can lead to changes in the physiological systems,
such as a reduction in the production of appropriate hormones, like the growth hormones,
and also a decline in the metabolic functioning.
Most people accept sleep difficulties as a fact of the ageing process. Most often sleep problems in the elderly are due to disease, environment, or lifestyle and not due to the "the normal ageing" process.
Irrespective of age, it remains essential to get the proper amount of restorative sleep for a person's physical health and emotional well-being.