Health Guide
Drug Guide

Insomnia in the elderly

What is it?


There may be one or more causes of insomnia. The most common causes are health problems, medicines or food, mental health conditions, nighttime habits, or surroundings. The following are some causes of insomnia:

Signs and Symptoms:

You may have one or more of the following signs and symptoms of insomnia:

Medical Care:

Your caregiver will ask you many questions and do a physical checkup. If your caregiver does not feel you have a health problem that is causing the insomnia, you may be given sleeping medicine. This medicine should be used for a short time as it can be addicting. The purpose of sleep medicine is to help you sleep and return you to better sleep habits. Some sleeping medicine has side effects, such as confusion. Do not take sleeping pills given to you by friends. You should also not take over-the-counter sleeping pills or medicine that cause insomnia, like some cold medicines.

Wellness Recommendations

Herbs and Supplements:

Before taking any herbs or supplements, ask your caregiver if it is OK. Talk to your caregiver about how much you should take. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the label. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to. The herbs and supplements listed may or may not help treat your condition.



Complementary Therapies:

Do's and Don'ts:

Other ways of treating your symptoms:

Other ways to treat your symptoms are available to you.

Talk to your caregiver if:


Care Agreement:

You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care will be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


1. Buchbauer G, Jirovetz L, Jager W et al. Aromatherapy: Evidence for sedative effects of the essential oil of lavender after inhalation. Z Naturforsch [C] 1991; 46:1067-1072.

2. Friess E, Trachsel L, Guldner J et al: DHEA administration increases rapid eye movement sleep and EEG power in the sigma frequency range. Am J Physiol 1995; 268(1 pt 1):E107-E113.

3. Hardy M, Kirk-Smith MD, Stretch DD: Replacement of drug therapy for insomnia by ambient odour. Lancet 1995; 346:701.

4. Hudgel DW, Gordon EA & Meltzer HY: Abnormal serotonergic stimulation of cortisol production in obstructive sleep apnea. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 1995; 152(1):186-192.

5. James SP, Mendelson WB, Sack DA et al: The effect of melatonin on normal sleep. Neuropsychopharmacology 1988; 1(1):41-44.

6. Mayer G, Kroger M & Meier-Ewert K: Effects of vitamin B12 on performance and circadian rhythm in normal subjects. Neuropsychopharmacology 1996; 15(5):456-464.

7. Morin CM, Mimeault V & Gagne A: Nonpharmacological treatment of late-life insomnia. J Psychosom Res 1999; 46(2):103-116.

8. Schulz H, Jobert M & Hubner WD: The quantitative EEG as a screening instrument to identify sedative effects of single doses of plant extracts in comparison with diazepam. Phytomedicine 1998; 5(6):449-458.

9. Solov'eva AD & Fishman EI: The phototherapy of psycho-autonomic disorders. Zh Nevropatol Psikhiatr Im S S Korsakova 1996; 96(3):67-71.

10. Vorbach EU, Gortelmeyer R & Bruning J: Therapie von Insomnien. Wirksamkeit und Vertraeglichkeit eines Baldrianpraeparats. Psychopharmakotherapie 1996; 3:109-115.

Last Updated: 9/15/2016

Thomson Micromedex. All rights reserved.

Thomson & A.D.A.M