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Sleep Disorders More Common With Age


If your sleep quality feels like it's worsening with age, you might not be dreaming: The older we get, the more we're at risk for conditions such as insomnia, sleep apnea and snoring, doctors say. Such sleep disturbances won't merely leave you groggy in the a.m. -- they can also up your risk of developing hypertension, depression, heart disease and brain problems. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has even classified " insufficient sleep" as a public health epidemic.

See Also: 7 Signs of Sleep Apnea >> 

A recent article in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society noted a "bidirectional relationship" between sleep disorders and other health problems in older adults, in which people with certain conditions--diabetes, obesity, depression--were more likely to develop sleep problems and people with sleep problems were more likely to develop these conditions.

All told, sleep problems plaque about 70 million Americans, according to the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research. But while people of all ages are at risk, that risk increases with age. The body clock changes," Atul Malhotra, medical director for the sleep disorders program at Brigham and Women's Hospital, told the Boston Globe.

It's not just that people sleep poorly because they're older. As we get older, we're more at risk for conditions such as insomnia or sleep apnea."

Sleep apnea, which involves pauses in breathing during sleep, is thought to affect 2 to 4 percent of the adult population. Treatments include surgery to improve nasal airways or wearing a mask attached to a machine that helps keep airways open during sleep. "If people can tolerate [the mask], it can be transformative," said Malhotra.
The other most common sleep problem is insomnia, which doctors usually prescribe medicine to treat, as well as behavioral changes (less caffeine, avoiding computers before bed, relaxation techniques, etc.). About 10 percent of Americans report chronic insomnia.

Monday Quick Hits: 

  • Drive-in revival. Only 368 drive-in theaters remain in the United States, and their numbers are dwindling, according to the United Drive-In Theatre Owners Association. But those that do exist have been reporting an uptick in attendance as of late.
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  • Cape Cod retirement dreams? Retirement on the cape has gotten more affordable recently, according to the Boston Globe. "With its relatively mild weather, low property taxes, and laid-back lifestyle, (Cape Cod) has long been a desirable destination for retirees," the paper notes. During the real estate boom many seeking that old Cape magic were priced out, but seven years in a down real estate market has lowered prices significantly.

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