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Starts at $9.98 per contact hour
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4 hours $8.98
8 hours $7.98
12 hours $6.98
20 hours $5.98
30 hours $4.98

Sleep and Aging

2.1 Contact Hours / 0.21 AOTA CEUs
Target Audience: Nurses, healthcare professionals, and interested individuals
Purpose/Goal: The outcome of this course is for the learner to describe the normal stages of sleep, common sleep measurement tools, sleep characteristics, common sleep disorders, the changes that affect the quality and quantity of sleep as an individual ages, and methods the healthcare provider can use to assess and assist clients with sleep changes as they age.
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Sleep is essential to a healthy, productive life. While sleep disorders and changes affect all of us as we age, older adults undergo many sleep-related changes that can affect their physical and psychological well-being.

Upon completion of the course, you will be able to do the following:

  • Define sleep and describe the characteristics of sleep.
  • Compare REM and NREM stages of sleep.
  • Describe common sleep measurement tools.
  • Identify key characteristics of common sleep disorders, including insomnia, sleep apnea, circadian rhythm disorders, narcolepsy, periodic limb movement disorder, restless leg syndrome, and parasomnias.
  • Describe sleep changes that occur in the aging population.
  • Identify conditions that can shorten, interrupt, or delay sleep in the elderly.
  • Explain the impact of diet on sleep patterns in the elderly.
  • Identify sleep hygiene practices that may help aging clients sleep effectively.
  • Describe common treatments for sleep disorders.

Sleep is not just a “resting brain.” It is a basic necessity of life and is as essential to our health as air, food, and water. When we sleep well, we feel refreshed, alert, and ready to face the challenges of life. If we don’t get enough sleep, our jobs, relationships, health, and safety can suffer (National Sleep Foundation, 2018).

  • Occupying approximately 30% of each day, sleep is a complex, highly organized, physiological state and it is crucial to the proper functioning, restoration, and repair of our bodies.
  • Sleep is a term derived from the Latin word “somnus,” meaning a natural, periodically recurring physiological state of rest for the body and mind. Sleep is defined as a behavioral state characterized by little physical activity and virtually no awareness of the outside world.
  • Meiner (2014) defines sleep as a state of inactivity that is required to remain active.

Sleep and wakefulness are regulated by the hypothalamus, which contains both a sleep center and a wakefulness center. Both are also influenced by the thalamus, limbic system, and reticular activating system (Meiner, 2014). While the quantity and quality of sleep vary from person to person, the amount of sleep we need to stay healthy is related to the amount of sleep we need to not feel sleepy the next day (National Sleep Foundation, 2018).

Yet, the processes and function of sleep are not completely understood. In the aging population, these processes and functions are even less understood since “normal” sleep can be defined in a variety of ways and the definitions are often inconsistent.

Our sleep needs remain constant throughout our lives, although we may meet those needs in a variety of ways. It is a common misconception that sleep needs decline with age. Whether a person is 2 years old or 82 years of age, most people still require 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night in order to remain healthy. When we sleep well, we awake refreshed and alert (National Sleep Foundation, 2018; Neikrug & Ancoli-Israel, 2010). When we don't sleep well, every aspect of our lives can be affected.

In the same way that our bodies change gradually over time, so, too, does our experience of sleep change as we age. Physical, medical, and psychological changes associated with aging, lifestyles and behaviors, stress, poor sleep habits developed over the years, and medications can all affect the quality and quantity of our sleep (National Sleep Foundation, 2018).

As United States society has changed, we work more and sleep less. Businesses and entire industries are open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Our bodies' need for sleep, however, has not changed. The result is that millions of Americans suffer from a "sleep debt."

Complete the course post exam (CE Test) with a score of 80% or greater. Complete all fields of the course evaluation form. Certificate of Completion is provided once the course post exam is passed per criteria above.

  • American Board of Managed Care Nursing
    The American Board of Managed Care Nursing recognizes all of ALLEGRA Learning Solutions' ANCC accredited courses for continuing education credit for Certified Managed Care Nurses (CMCNs).
  • ANCC - American Nurses Credentialing Center
    ALLEGRA Learning Solutions, LLC is accredited with distinction as a provider of nursing continuing professional development by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.
  • AOTA - American Occupational Therapy Association
    ALLEGRA Learning Solutions, LLC, is an approved provider of continuing education for occupational therapists by the American Occupational Therapy Association. Approved Provider # 3166
  • ASWB - Association of Social Work Boards
    This course is approved by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program to be offered by ALLEGRA Learning Solutions, LLC as an individual course. Individual courses, not providers, are approved at the course level. State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit. ACE course approval period: 04/22/2021-04/22/2024. Social workers completing this course receive the specified distance learning continuing education credits.
  • California Board of Registered Nursing
    ALLEGRA Learning Solutions is approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing, Provider # CEP 14693 for the number of hours stated.
  • California Department of Health, Aid, and Technician Certification Section
    The California Department of Health, Aid, and Technician Certification Section accepts continuing education offered by CA-BRN approved providers.
  • District of Columbia Board of Nursing
    ALLEGRA Learning Solutions (CE Provider # 50-12076) submits all continuing education records to CE BROKER after successful completion.
  • Florida Board of Nursing
    ALLEGRA Learning Solutions, LLC is accredited as a provider of continuing education by the Florida Board of nursing (CE Provider # 50-12076). Courses are automatically submitted to CE Broker.
  • Florida Board of Nursing - Certified Nursing Assistants
    ALLEGRA Learning Solutions (CE Broker Provider # 50-12076) submits all continuing education records to CE Broker after successful completion.
  • Florida Board of Respiratory Care
    ALLEGRA Learning Solutions, LLC is accredited as a provider of continuing education by the Florida Board of Respiratory Care
  • Florida Council of Dietetics and Nutrition
    ALLEGRA Learning Solutions, LLC is accredited as a provider of continuing education by the Florida Council of Dietetitics and Nutrition
  • Florida Council of Licensed Midwifery
    ALLEGRA Learning Solutions, LLC is accredited as a provider of continuing education by the Florida Council of Licensed Midwifery
  • NAADAC - The National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors
    This course has been approved by ALLEGRA Learning Solutions, LLC, as a NAADAC Approved Education Provider, for educational credits. NAADAC Provider #813, ALLEGRA Learning Solutions, LLC is responsible for all aspects of their programming.


Practice Level:


Content Focus:

Professional Issues

Course Expires:

March 18, 2027

  • Cyndie Koopsen, RN, BSN, MBA, HNB-BC, RN-BC, HWNC-BC
  • Caroline Young, MPH
Jurisdictional Requirements:

Continuing education (CE) licensing requirements vary by jurisdiction, are not well defined, and may change. These CE requirements may vary in terms of the number of hours required to the types of courses that must be taken. ALLEGRA Learning Solutions, LLC recommends you contact your licensing board or accrediting organization for the latest continuing education requirements of your state or territory. Compliance with CE requirements is the responsibility of the individual health care provider. Health care providers must understand the CE requirements in their jurisdictions, and be sure they are up-to-date on any rule changes that affect their license. For further information, please see our Accreditation Information.

Accommodations for Disabilities:

Every effort will be made to accommodate your special needs. To request accommodations, please contact us.

Conflicts of Interest and Relevant Financial Relationships:

The authors/planning committee members have no conflicts of interests or relevant financial relationships to declare relevant to this activity.

Commercial Support:

No commercial support has been received for this activity.

Non-endorsement of products:

Accreditation refers to recognition of continuing nursing education only and does not imply ALLEGRA Learning Solutions, LLC approval or endorsement of any commercial product.

Off-label Use of Products:

None of the authors intend to discuss off-label uses of drugs, mechanical devices, biologics, or diagnostics not approved by the FDA for use in the United States.