The number of older adults in the United States is expected to grow significantly over the next several decades, which in turn means more people will be suffering from sleep disorders.

”There is definitely a shift in REM and short wake sleep as we age,” said Dr. Samuel Gurevich, a pulmonologist with Cleveland Clinic Weston.

The question? Why does age seem to rob our bodies of much needed rest?

”Part of it is because there’s a high prevalence of other medical conditions that can interfere with sleep. Arthritis, heart disease, lung disease, even prostate issues. So anything that can cause discomfort to the body will cause you to potentially wake up throughout the night, so it will decrease the quality of our sleep,” Gurevich said.

And some of the conditions he mentioned may not be outwardly obvious which means that poor sleep could actually be the first warning sign of an underlying condition.

”It’s also important to know that there are sleep disorders that become worse or more prevalent in people as they get old and that includes things like sleep apnea for example,” Gurevich said.

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