Sleep Problems Fact Sheet

  • For optimal daytime alertness, humans require about eight hours of sleep per 24-hour period.
  • Common – and normal – sleep problems, which include light sleep, frequent waking, and daytime fatigue, plague up to 40% of older adults.
  • Typical symptoms of sleep problems in older adults include difficulty falling asleep and maintaining sleep, early-morning awakening, and excessive daytime sleepiness.
  • Sleep problems often affect the quality of life for older people, and there is growing evidence of a relationship between sleep and health.
  • People with insomnia are four times as likely to suffer from depression than people who sleep well.
  • Sleep problems of older people often are not addressed by their primary care physicians, even though treatment of those sleep disorders could improve an older person's physical and mental health and enhance their quality of life.
  • Identification of sleep problems could lead to improved management of common age-related chronic illnesses and quality of life of older adults.
  • Good sleep habits and daily physical activity is conducive to restorative sleep.
  • Consultation with a sleep disorders specialist should be considered for persons with marked daytime sleepiness, because this symptom can be dangerous.