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Original Articles

Sleep in the Elderly: Burden, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Article Abstract

Insomnia is commonly seen in elderly populations and is associated with numerous individual and socioeconomic consequences. Elderly patients are more likely to suffer from chronic insomnia characterized by difficulty maintaining sleep than difficulty initiating sleep. Management of insomnia in these patients requires very careful evaluation and exclusion of an underlying medical or psychiatric condition. Nonpharmacologic interventions in elderly patients, especially use of behavioral therapy, have demonstrated some success. Commonly prescribed medications have also been effective, though they have limitations. Newer agents currently under investigation for insomnia hold promise for good efficacy and safety in the elderly population. The following review presents clinical studies, survey results, and guidelines retrieved from peer-reviewed journals in the PubMed database using the search terms elderly, temazepam, trazodone, zolpidem, zaleplon, insomnia, and prevalence and the dates 1980 to 2003. In addition, newer research with emerging agents has been included for completeness.


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