Effects of aging on sleep structure throughout adulthood: a population-based study.

Sleep medicine

PubMedID: 24657204

Moraes W, Piovezan R, Poyares D, Bittencourt LR, Santos-Silva R, Tufik S. Effects of aging on sleep structure throughout adulthood: a population-based study. Sleep Med. 2014;.
Although many studies have shown the evolution of sleep parameters across the lifespan, not many have included a representative sample of the general population. The objective of this study was to describe age-related changes in sleep structure, sleep respiratory parameters and periodic limb movements of the adult population of São Paulo.

We selected a representative sample of the city of São Paulo, Brazil that included both genders and an age range of 20-80years. Pregnant and lactating women, people with physical or mental impairments that prevent self-care and people who work every night were not included. This sample included 1024 individuals who were submitted to polysomnography and structured interviews. We subdivided our sample into five-year age groups. One-way analysis of variance was used to compare age groups. Pearson product-moment was used to evaluate correlation between age and sleep parameters.

Total sleep time, sleep efficiency, percentage of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and slow wave sleep showed a significant age-related decrease (P<0.05). WASO (night-time spent awake after sleep onset), arousal index, sleep latency, REM sleep latency, and the percentage of stages 1 and 2 showed a significant increase (P<0.05). Furthermore, apnea-hypopnea index increased and oxygen saturation decreased with age. The reduction in the percentage of REM sleep significantly correlated with age in women, whereas the reduction in the percentage of slow wave sleep correlated with age in men. The periodic limb movement (PLM) index increased with age in men and women.

Sleep structure and duration underwent significant alterations throughout the aging process in the general population. There was an important correlation between age, sleep respiratory parameters and PLM index. In addition, men and women showed similar trends but with different effect sizes.