For many people, a good night's sleep is rare. Surveys indicate that around one in three older adults, ages 55 and up, experiences chronic insomnia or other sleep disturbances. The news gets worse.
Among a group of healthy elderly people tracked for an average of 13 years, those who had difficulty falling or staying asleep died from natural causes at a much higher rate than those who slept well, according to a report in January/February Psychosomatic Medicine.
If the results hold up, researchers will need to examine whether medications and behavioral treatments for insomnia boost survival in the elderly, say study leader and psychologist Mary A. Dew of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and her colleagues.
In an investigation going back to 1984, the researchers studied 186 elderly adults, most between 60 and 80 years old, who had never exhibited mental disorders, significant sleep disturbances, or any marked declines in thinking and memory. N