Geriatrician Questions Sleepiness

How can older people be treated for lack of sleep?

My father is 78 years old and he is unable to sleep well at night. As a result he feels sluggish and sleepy throughout the day. How can we treat this problem for him considering his age?

2 Answers

You can use melatonin 3 mg at night. May increase to 5 if no effect.
Rule out potentially treatable sleep disorder, e.g., sleep apnea.
Review timing of meds, some of which may be interfering with sleep and/or sedating him during the day.
Consider trial of melatonin, starting 1-3 mg, up to 10 mg (assuming it is not contraindicated and his PCP approves).

Michele Haber, MD