Adequate sleep is important for health and quality of life at all ages. Refreshing sleep requires both quality and quantity, so much so that an inadequacy of either leads to overall higher mortality rates. Numerous studies have sited significant changes in sleep that typically occur with aging and primary sleep disorders are more common in the elderly than in younger patients. As many as half of persons over 65 have some complaint relating to sleep. There is a high prevalence of insomnia in the elderly population and elderly patients also frequently suffer from sleep-disordered breathing, restless legs syndrome, periodic leg movement disorder, circadian rhythm disturbances, narcolepsy, and rapid eye movement behavior disorder. Unfortunately, sleep problems in the elderly are often mistakenly considered a normal part of aging. The aim of this article is to review normal sleep, sleep and the major causes of sleep disturbances in the elderly. Attention has been given to diagnosis and appropriate interventions, since sleep disturbances left untreated can have significant negative impact in terms of life expectancy, general health outcome and quality of life.