Aging is characterized by several changes in the sleep quality and architecture. The main changes are a measurable decrease in the ability to initiate and maintain sleep, a decrease in the proportion of the deeper, more restorative slow-wave sleep and REM sleep, an increased diurnal sleepiness and an altered circadian cycle of wake-sleep. These changes per se, or in association with specific sleep disorders, are often accompanied by impairments in cognitive functions, overall declarative and non-declarative memory. Some strategies based on behavioural techniques have proved to be fairly effective - per se or in association with chrono-, photo- or pharmacological therapies- to maintain or recover the sleep organization and the circadian rhythm of wake-sleep and, in turn, the cognitive functioning in home- and (overall) community-dwelling elderly.
Keywords: Sleep, circadian rhythms, declarative and non-declarative memory, sleep hygiene.