Home > GOLDEN YEARS > Sleep Disorder in Elderly

Sleep Disorder in Elderly


Normal adults require 6-8 hours of sleep. Children need longer hours of sleep but the elderly need shorter (4-5) hours. Sleep disorder is a disruption in sleep pattern.

Common causes of sleep disorders are:

  • Life style shift work
  • Physical problems e.g. pain, difficulty in breathing, frequent urination at night
  • Psychological or psychiatric disorders e.g.schizophrenia , depression , anxiety disorders , stress etc.
  • Drugs and alcohol abuse
  • Environment – too noisy

Signs and symptom

  • Sleeping too much (hypersomnia)
  • Sleeping too little (insomnia)
  • Abnormal behaviour during sleep e.g. sleep walking, sleep terror, tooth-grinding etc


Sleep disorder can interfere with your mental and emotional functions. It can affect your work, studies and relationships. You may feel tired and sleepy during the day and become irritable easily. You may have difficulty in concentrating and paying attention and are more likely to make mistakes and get involved in accidents.


Seek help from your doctor:

  • Your doctor will identify and treat the underlying causes
  • Behavioral treatment sleep hygiene, relaxation technique
  • Your doctor may prescribe medication


Sleep disorder can be prevented by:

  • Developing a healthy sleep routine
  • Leading a healthy life style and managing your stress well.
  • Avoiding drug abuse, alcohol and other substances.
  • Complying/ adhering to treatment for pain, medical or psychiatric illness.


Sleep hygiene technique:

  • Change your habit do not smoke, do not take naps during daytime, limit alcohol and caffeine use, exercise early in the day and not before bedtime.
  • Modify your sleep environment use your bedroom for sleeping only and ensure the room environment is peaceful and comfortable. Make sure your bed is comfortable.
  • Pre-sleep rituals keep a regular schedule (same bedtime and waking up every day including weekend) , do not eat heavy meals before bedtime, take warm milk, go to bed when feeling sleepy, relax for a while before going to bed.
  • Keep a sleep diary total hours and quality of sleep, time to bed and wake up, type of food, drinks and medication taken and feelings.
  • Avoid over -the-counter sleeping medications.

Kumpulan sokongan

Sleep Disorder Society of Malaysia

Pertubuhan Kesihatan Mental Malaysia

Last Reviewed : 20 May 2008
Writer : Dr. Suraya binti Yusoff