National Institute on Aging
National Institutes of Health
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Take the following quiz to find out how much you know about how aging affects your sleep. Scroll down to the bottom of this page to find the correct answers. You can also read more in the Sleep and Growing Older article.
True or False
1. Older adults require less sleep than younger adults.
2. Poor sleep is a normal part of aging.
3. People without major medical or psychiatric problems tend to sleep better.
4. Poor sleep can lead to attention and memory problems.
5. Which of the following is a symptom of insomnia?
A. Waking up tired.
B. Dreaming every night.
C. Sleeping through the night.
6. Short-term insomnia may be caused by which of the following?
A. Grieving after losing a spouse or loved one
B. Moving to a new area
C. Being in the hospital
D. All of the above
7. Which of the following is the most common reason for older people to wake up at night?
A. They hear a strange noise.
B. They have to go to the bathroom.
C. They are in pain.
8. As people age, which of the following tends to occur?
A. They fall asleep later in the evening.
B. They wake up later in the morning.
C. They nap more often during the day.
9. Snoring is more common among which group of people?
A. Older adults and people who are overweight
B. Young adults and people who are underweight
C. People of normal weight
10. Snoring is caused by which of the following?
A. A complete blockage of the airway
B. A partial blockage of the airway
C. Lower levels of oxygen in the blood
11. If you have obstructive sleep apnea, you may have which of the following signs?
A. A complete blockage of the airway passage
B. Lower levels of oxygen in the blood
C. Repeated awakenings during the night
D. All of the above
12. Which of the following is true of sleep apnea in older adults?
A. It is extremely rare.
B. It has consequences that are more severe than in younger adults.
C. It causes daytime sleepiness when it is severe.
True or False
13. Restless legs syndrome and periodic limb movement disorder are very rare in older adults.
14. Scientists understand what causes restless legs syndrome.
15. Restless legs syndrome and periodic limb movement disorder only affect the person with the condition.
16. During REM sleep behavior disorder muscles cannot move.
17. Bed partners may report signs of a sleep problem that are unknown to the sleeper. This includes which of the following?
A. Loud snoring
B. Breathing pauses
C. Unusual movements during sleep
D. All of the above
18. An overnight sleep study, or polysomnogram, measures which of the following?
A. Heart rate, body movements and brain waves
B. Blood pressure and blood sugar
C. Bone density
19. Which test requires a person to nap several times in one day?
A. Sleep log
B. Multiple sleep latency test
D. Sleep diary
20. What things should you be sure to mention when talking with the doctor in a sleep evaluation?
A. Caffeine intake
B. Over-the-counter and prescription medications
C. Medical conditions
D. All of the above
True or False
21. Most sleep disorders can be treated effectively.
22. All sleep apnea patients are best treated by changing their body position when they sleep.
23. Continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, is the most effective treatment for sleep apnea.
24. Restless legs syndrome is often associated with high levels of iron in the blood.
25. Going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day helps you sleep more soundly.
26. If you find that you cannot get to sleep after lying in bed more than 15 minutes, you should continue to lie there until you fall asleep.
27. Regular physical exercise can help you sleep better.
28. Drinking alcohol before bedtime is a good way to help you fall asleep.
1. FALSE is the correct answer. As we age, our sleep requirements remain similar to those of younger adults. That is, most people need the same seven to nine hours of sleep per night.
2. FALSE is the correct answer. Many people believe that poor sleep is a normal part of aging, but it is not. In fact, many healthy older adults report having no or few sleep problems. Sleep patterns change as we age, but disturbed sleep and waking up tired every day are not part of normal aging.
3. TRUE is the correct answer. Researchers have noted that persons without major medical or psychiatric illnesses tend to sleep better.
4. TRUE is the correct answer. 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 use more over-the-counter or prescription sleep aids.
5. A is the correct answer. Waking up tired is one of the symptoms of insomnia. Other symptoms include the following:
- Waking up many times each night
- Waking up early and being unable to get back to sleep
- Taking a long time -- more than 30 to 45 minutes -- to fall asleep
6. D is the correct answer. Short-term insomnia, lasting less than one month, may result after a medical or psychiatric condition. Or it may occur after a change in personal circumstances like losing a loved one, relocating, or being hospitalized. If insomnia lasts longer than a month, it is considered chronic, even if the original cause has been resolved.
7. B is the correct answer. Although many factors can cause insomnia, the most common reason older adults wake up at night is to go the bathroom. Disorders that cause pain or discomfort during the night such as heartburn, arthritis, menopause, and cancer also can cause older adults to lose sleep. Medical conditions such as heart failure and lung disease may make it more difficult to sleep through the night, too.
8. C is the correct answer. As people age, they tend to nap more often during the day. Also, they usually get sleepier earlier in the evening and wake up earlier in the morning. These habits can make it more difficult to get a good night's sleep.
9. A is the correct answer. Snoring is a very common condition affecting nearly 40 percent of adults. It is more common among older people and those who are overweight.
10. B is the correct answer. Snoring is caused by a partial blockage of the airway passage from the nose and mouth to the lungs. The blockage causes the tissues in these passages to vibrate, leading to the noise produced when someone snores.
11. D is the correct answer. If you have obstructive sleep apnea, you may experience complete blockage of your airways and lower levels of oxygen in the blood. You may also wake up frequently during the night.
12. C is the correct answer. When severe, sleep apnea may cause people to wake up often at night and be drowsy during the day.
13. FALSE is the correct answer. Restless legs syndrome is a common condition in older adults and affects more than 20 percent of those 80 and older. Roughly 40 percent of older persons have at least a mild form of periodic limb movement disorder.
14. FALSE is the correct answer. Scientists do not fully understand what causes restless legs syndrome, but it has been linked to a variety of conditions. Some of these conditions include iron deficiency, kidney failure and dialysis, pregnancy, and nerve problems.
15. FALSE is the correct answer. Restless legs syndrome and periodic limb movement disorder often disrupt sleep, not only for the patient but the bed partner as well.
16. FALSE is the correct answer. During REM, or rapid eye movement sleep, the body is immobile and unable to move during dreaming episodes. However, in more severe forms of REM sleep behavior disorder, muscles become quite mobile and sufferers often act out their dreams.
17. D is the correct answer. It is helpful to have your bed partner come with you to your appointment since they may be able to report symptoms unknown to you like loud snoring, breathing pauses, or movements during sleep.
18. A is the correct answer. A polysomnogram is an overnight test that measures brain waves, heart rate, breathing patterns, blood oxygen, and body movements.
19. B is the correct answer. A multiple sleep latency test requires a person to nap several times in one day. During this test, the person is given daytime opportunities to nap every 2 hours. If the person falls asleep too quickly, it may represent excessive daytime sleepiness.
20. D is the correct answer. Since older persons are more likely to take medications and have medical problems that may affect sleep, it is important for your doctor to be aware of any medical problems or medications you are taking. Don't forget to mention over-the-counter medications, coffee or caffeine use, and alcohol since these also may adversely affect a person's sleep.
21. TRUE is the correct answer. Although many sleep disorders are not diagnosed, it is important to remember that most sleep problems can be treated effectively.
22. FALSE is the correct answer. Changing your body position only helps if you experience sleep apnea more often when you lie on your back.
23. TRUE is the correct answer. The most effective and popular treatment for sleep apnea is nasal continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP. This device creates airway pressure that keeps the airway passages open.
24. FALSE is the correct answer. People with restless legs syndrome often have low levels of iron in their blood. In these cases, doctors will often prescribe supplements.
25. TRUE is the correct answer. It is important to follow a regular bedtime and wake time schedule. Try to go to sleep and get up at the same time, even on weekends. This helps keep you in sync with your body's circadian clock, a 24-hour internal rhythm affected by sunlight.
26. FALSE is the correct answer. After turning off the light, give yourself about 15 minutes to fall asleep. If you are still awake and not drowsy, get out of bed. When you get sleepy, go back to bed.
27. TRUE is the correct answer. Exercising regularly improves the quality of your nighttime sleep and helps you sleep more soundly. Try to finish your workout at least three hours before bedtime.
28. FALSE is the correct answer. Don't drink alcohol to help you sleep. Even small amounts of alcohol can make it harder to stay asleep.