Modern advances in science and technology have resulted in a steady increase in life expectancy of human beings, especially in developed countries. In the United States, the current average life expectancy at birth is 80 years for females and 75 years for males. At age 65, the current average life expectancy is 20 years for females and 17 years for males . This trend implies a gradual increase in the proportion of older adults in the general population, and that the elderly will account for an increasing and significant proportion of patients seen by physicians in most clinical disciplines. For this reason, understanding the aging process and the associated changes in different organs and systems is of paramount importance. In addition, older adults themselves should be aware of normal age-related changes (changes in their functional status that is the result of aging per se), and changes that are consequences of conditions (diseases, effect of medications) that adversely affect their health or functional status. Knowledge of these potentially reversible factors would empower older adults, and enable them to interact with their health care providers and participate in decision making process.
“Successful aging” is one term used to describe the impact of aging on an individual. In general, the term implies absence of disease-related disability, good physical and mental activity and active engagement in daily life activities . Sleep-related factors have been shown to be significantly associated with measures that indicate successful aging. In the next sections, we will discuss changes in sleep that are observed among otherwise healthy older adults (considered to be changes that are the results of normal aging), as well as sleep disorders that are commonly encountered among older adults.