Sleep Disruptions May Arise With Age

Breathing Problems During Sleep More Common in Older People, Study Shows

From the WebMD Archives

Feb. 1, 2008 -- As people age, their breathing during sleep may become more irregular, a new study shows.

That news comes from a study of 163 healthy, non-obese adults who spent a night at a sleep lab, with their every breath monitored as they slept.

The researchers tracked the number of times each person's breathing was disrupted during sleep. Those disruptions included not breathing for at least 10 seconds or slowdowns in breathing.

Such events were more common in older participants. For instance, 95% of people younger than 50 had no more than 15 breathing disruptions during sleep, compared with half of people older than 65.

Age was associated with breathing problems in sleep in men and women.

The findings were "remarkable," say researchers, who included Milena Pavlova, MD, of Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital.

They write that irregular breathing during sleep "increases dramatically with age, even in healthy individuals without symptoms or signs of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome," a condition in which the airway becomes obstructed during sleep.

The study appears in today's edition of Sleep.

WebMD Health News Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on February 01, 2008


Pavlova, M. Sleep, Feb. 1, 2008; vol 31.
News release, American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

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