Importance of Sleep in old age.
3 mins read

Importance of Sleep in old age.

Contributed by 

Dr Arif Magribi Khan M.D

Consultant Psychiatrist. 


The COVID-19 pandemic has inadvertently triggered another crisis – a surge in sleep disorders worldwide.

Indicators of poor sleep quality include : persistent sleepiness, frequent nocturnal awakenings, and symptoms of sleep disorders like snoring or gasping for air.

Social Conditions Impacting Sleep in Senior Citizens:

Noise: Excessive noise, a prevalent issue according to WHO, can lead to health problems, including sleep disturbance.

Loudspeakers and DJ music at events contribute to noise pollution, affecting the sleep of infants and the elderly.

Internet Phone Calls:

Varying time zones between countries, as seen in India and countries like the United States or New Zealand, can disrupt sleep when family members working abroad call during odd hours. Thus balancing communication timings is essential.

Loneliness: Many senior citizens, having lost family and friends, experience loneliness. Connecting them with living companions and engaging them in family activities can be a comforting remedy.

Lack of Hobbies: Retired parents should not be retired from hobbies. Encouraging them to pursue interests, contribute to society, and maintain self-care enhances their well-being and self-respect.

Senior Citizens and Children:

Both parties need to acknowledge the aging process. While children should understand their parents are growing older, parents must recognize that their children are also aging. Striking a balance in expectations is vital.

Medical Conditions Affecting Sleep in Older Adults:

Disorders that commonly affect sleep in older people include many medical conditions like depression, anxiety, which most do not treat or poorly controlled heart disease, diabetes, and conditions that cause discomfort and pain, such as arthritis.

Many senior citizens do suffer from enlargement of the prostate gland.

The relationship between physical health and sleep is complicated by the fact that many older adults are diagnosed with more than one health condition.

Those with multiple health conditions are more likely to report getting less than six hours of sleep, having poor sleep quality, and experiencing symptoms of a sleep disorder. A new study suggests that getting less than five hours of sleep a night may raise the risk of developing depressive symptoms.

Researchers estimate that between 40% and 70% of older adults have chronic sleep issues and up to half of cases may be undiagnosed .

Chronic sleep problems can significantly interfere with older adult’s daily activities and reduce their quality of life.  

We all know how to sleep well but I do add a tip for our worries.

Make a list of the tasks you need to do tomorrow and all the things you’re currently worried about.

You can even put it with your sleep log or start a bullet journal, which you can use to organise all parts of your life.

If it’s useful, ask yourself some questions, such as “How much will this worry matter tomorrow?” Thus a  collaborative effort involving geriatrics, psychologists, medical doctors, and society is essential to address both social and medical conditions affecting the sleep of our senior citizens.


The relationship between physical health and sleep is complicated by the fact that many older adults are diagnosed with more than one health condition. We spend about one-third of our lives asleep, and its significance rivals that of food, water, and air for our survival. Sleep is crucial for bodily growth, repair, memory consolidation, immune function, and healing after injury or disease.


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