A good night's sleep: NIHSeniorHealth offers helpful information

April 5, 2005

Stephanie Dailey, NIA | 301-496-1752 |

Kathy Cravedi, NLM | 301-496-6308 |

I have trouble falling asleep. Is that what I should expect at my age? Why do older adults wake up at night? When should I see a doctor about a sleeping problem? Now, information about sleep and aging is only a mouse click away at The Web site also offers hints for getting a good night’s sleep. For example, exercising regularly improves the quality of your nighttime sleep and helps you sleep more soundly, and doing the same things each night tells your body that it's time to wind down.

Like food and water, adequate sleep is essential to good health and quality of life. Not sleeping well can lead to a number of problems. For example, older adults who have poor nighttime sleep are more likely to have a depressed mood, attention and memory problems, excessive daytime sleepiness, more nighttime falls, and to use more over-the-counter or prescription sleep aids. Sleep problems also are associated with a poorer quality of life.

“Although sleep patterns change as we age, disturbed sleep and waking up tired every day are not part of normal aging. In fact, many healthy older adults report few or no sleep problems,” says Andrew A. Monjan, Ph.D., M.P.H., chief of the Neurobiology of Aging Branch of the National Institute on Aging (NIA). “NIHSeniorHealth now has accurate, up-to-date information to help all older Americans get a good night’s sleep.”

One of the fastest growing age groups using the Internet, older Americans increasingly turn to the World Wide Web for health information. In fact, 66 percent of “wired” seniors surf for health and medical information when they go online. NIHSeniorHealth, a joint effort of the NIA and the National Library of Medicine (NLM), was designed especially with seniors in mind. The site is based on the latest research on cognition and aging. It features short, easy-to-read segments of information that can be accessed in a variety of formats, including various large-print type sizes, open-captioned videos, and even an audio version. Additional topics coming soon to the site include problems with taste and smell, eye diseases, stroke, and osteoporosis. The site links to MedlinePlus, NLM’s premier, more detailed site for consumer health information.

The NIA leads the Federal effort supporting and conducting research on aging and the health and well-being of older people. The NLM, the world's largest library of the health sciences, creates and sponsors Web-based health information resources for the public and professionals. All three are components of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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