MONDAY, Oct. 9, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Elderly people caring for spouses with Alzheimer's disease often suffer from sleep troubles that harm their health, researchers say.
In the study, a team from the University of California, San Diego, conducted a series of tests on 40 elderly caregivers of spouses with Alzheimer's disease.
They found that frequent awakenings after sleep onset helped boost levels of norepinephrine -- a hormone and neurotransmitter involved in a number of behaviors including alertness, concentration, aggression and motivation.
The findings were published in the Oct. 1 issue of Sleep.
Older adults require about seven to nine hours of sleep per night, the researchers noted. Poor quality sleep can harm physical health and cause other problems, including depressed mood, attention and memory deficits, excessive daytime sleepiness, more nighttime falls, and increased use of over-the-counter or prescription sleep aids.
The Alzheimer's Association has more about caregiver stress and health.