Sunday, May 16, 2010

Majority of assisted living residents have “significant sleep disturbances”

It’s no secret people sleep less as they get older, and there’s no better example of this than residents of assisted living facilities.

65 percent have some type of clinical sleep disorder, according to a study published in the American Geriatrics Society.

The authors tracked 121 seniors after they enrolled in one of 18 assisted living facilities in the Los Angeles area.

The subjects took the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, a self-rated questionnaire. Researchers then measured their sleep quality by wrist actigraph. The subjects took both tests at enrollment and after three and six months at the facility.

A majority of people had some type of sleep disturbance. About 60 percent of residents complained of some form of insomnia. Slightly more subjects said they woke up in the middle of the night or early morning than had trouble sleeping.

Physical and mental health tended to decline at a faster rate for residents who complained of sleep disturbances.

The authors of the study were quick to point out that poor sleep is associated with decline in health at a late age. The authors suggest there’s room to examine for a possible causal relationship by seeing if improving sleep would spur better health.

At this point it’s not known what direction therelationship takes. Does health decline for assisted living residents because of poor sleep or are sleep disturbances a symptom of greater health problems?

A study published in the May issue of SLEEP found people who lived to be 100 slept more than most, averaging 7.5 hours of sleep a day. Generally, older adults tend to get less sleep. However, due to the design of the study, its not known whether sleep increased near 100 years old, or if 100-year-olds were better sleepers than most people ages 65 to 99.

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