A recent report about high beta-amyloid plaque in the brain associated with the incidence of accidents involving falls has been published the University of California, in San Francisco. Since beta-amyloids have been shown to have a circadian rhythm, and affect geriatrics late in the day causing “sundown syndrome” as well as the falls that occur with high beta-amyloid plaques, it stands to reason that more studies on sleep deprivation and insomnia need to be undertaken.
Geriatric insomnia has had few disciplined studies, and unfortunately those that have been undertaken were of completely different methodologies, and therefore cannot be used in comparison to one another. What geriatric specialists do know is that there are many and varied reasons for insomnia in seniors.
Some reasons for insomnia are typical with aging, like the need to get up in the middle of the night to urinate. This affects menopausal and post-menopausal women, and men suffering from prostate problems have it as well. Treatment for this can be as simple as not drinking before bedtime, reducing caffeine consumption, and use of antimuscarinics like Detrol. Other sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, night disturbances, restless leg syndrome, and frequent daytime naps contribute to lack of sleep in seniors, and must be addressed.
A disciplined study on geriatric sleep disorders is therefore highly recommended. Once the symptoms have been alleviated, we can go one step further in the treatment of Alzheimer’s and the presence of beta-amyloid burdens in the brain.