J Korean Geriatr Psychiatry.  2003 Jun;7(1):11-22.

Pharmacological Treatment of Sleep Disorders in Elderly

  • 1Department Psychiatry, Sleep Disorders Clinic, Korea Unversity, College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea. leen54@chollian.net


In old people, the sleep pattern, prevalence of sleep disorders, and both pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of drugs in the body are changed. The sleep disorders in elderly are regarded not as the result of changes in physiological sleep need but as the impairment in ability to maintain sleep. These impairments are thought to be the results of the changes in circadian rhythm, medical problems, drug use, common sleep disorders in the elderly, and the environmental factors which influence on sleep-wake cycle. Insomnia is not a simple homogenous disease entity, so exact diagnosis is essential for appropriate treatment. Especially, to treat sleep disorders in Elderly, it is necessary to make a careful diagnosis and prescription based on strict criteriae. Hypnotic medication takes simply a part among several treatment modalities of insomnia. For example, to certain patients, the behavioral modification and light therapy, rather than hypnotics, are effective. This paper reviews the characteristics of sleep pattern, common sleep disorders, indication of medication, and treatment guidelines of hypnotics in elderly.


Pharmacotherapy; Sleep disorders; Elderly
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