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It's interesting to note that as a person reaches at the age of 50 to 60 years, his body start to lose its ability to create good quality REM and NonREM sleep (which explains why old people are awakened so easily). Often this lack of "quality sleep" results in fatigue and is recompensed by a nap or a few naps during in daytime.
A nursing home sleep study revealed that most patients in nursing homes never stayed fully awake or asleep for an entire hour. They kept coming in and out of sleep throughout the 24 hour period. (1) There are multiple reasons for this, including factors such as noise, light, chronic bed rest, other health conditions, and medications.
Those caring for aging adults will want to be sure that the persons' position and bedding are changed at appropriate intervals if the individual cannot do that for him or herself. Also, as quality of blood circulation declines, the person will need to have adequate covers or blankets.
For those who wear dentures during the day, it may be a good idea to keep them in during the night as well. In a recent experiment, a patient experienced more sleep apneas per hour while sleeping without his dentures. The dentures help to support the tissue inside the patients' throat, providing a better airway. (2)
(1) Ancoli-Israel, Sonia. All I Want is a Good Night's Sleep. St. Louis, Mosby, 1996. (p.107)
(2) This report is in The Lancet (1999, 353:121122) as cited in: "Removing Dentures at Bedtime May Worsen Sleep Apnea." Sleep Disorder News. MedBriefs. (INC inc.) Jan 14, 1999 URL: http://www.mediconsult.com/mc/mcsite.nsf/conditionnav/sleep~medicalnews[an error occurred while processing this directive]