Sleep in the human aging process and circadian sleep rhythm disruptions
ResumoThe aging process is often related to sleeping difficulties, often due to changes in circadian rhythms. The circadian timing system is centered in the suprachiasmatic nucleus - the master biological clock - which synchronizes the rhythm of oscillators throughout the body, including the sleep-wake cycle. This affects the time, duration and quality of sleep according to the development and aging process, under external and internal influences. This review addresses the human circadian timing system, including endogenous and exogenous influences on circadian rhythms, their age-related particularities, as well as the repercussions of circadian misalignment in neurodegenerative diseases. Circadian rhythms naturally weaken with aging, but there are particularities according to age. Throughout life, sleep and circadian rhythm disorders are strongly bidirectionally related to the pathophysiology of some psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. This knowledge could potentially create valuable opportunities to improve the health of the world's population that is under circadian misalignment and aging.