Monday, November 2, 2009

The Good Life: Sleep & Retirement

A study in the Nov. 1 issue of the journal Sleep suggests that your sleep may improve when you retire.

Results show that 24.2 percent of workers had disturbed sleep in the last year before retirement; this dropped to 17.8 percent in the first year after retiring.
The odds of having disturbed sleep in the seven years after retirement were 26 percent lower than in the seven years before retiring.

The greatest reduction in sleep disturbances was reported by people who had depression or mental fatigue while they were working. Depressed workers were 45 percent less likely to have disturbed sleep in the years after retiring.

Men and night-shift workers also benefited greatly from retirement; their odds of having sleep disturbances dropped by 34 percent. In contrast, the odds of reporting disturbed sleep dropped by only 11 percent in women.

The authors link the sleep improvement to the removal of job stress. Sleep improved more in retired managers than in lower-level employees. It also improved more in workers who reported higher psychological job demands.

The odds of having disturbed sleep increased slowly with age. This occurred in both working and retired adults.

People who retired early because of an illness or disability were more likely to have disturbed sleep in retirement. They had a 46 percent increased risk of sleep disturbances after retiring.

The study involved 14,714 employees from the French national gas and electricity company. They retired between 1990 and 2006. The study authors noted that these workers enjoyed some highly favorable employment and retirement conditions.

Their job security was guaranteed. They retired at an average age of 55 years. And they received a company-paid pension that was 80 percent of their salary.

That may sound like a dream to many people in the U.S. But
survey data released by the CDC last week suggest that U.S. workers also may enjoy a “sleep benefit” when they retire.

Forty-four percent of retired adults were sound sleepers; they reported getting enough rest or sleep every day in the past month. In contrast, only 29 percent of employed adults were sound sleepers.

In September the Sleep Education Blog reported that your job may be affecting how you sleep. Learn more about sleep and work.

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