Bad sleep quality triggers insomnia

Sleep problems like insomnia being reported among the elderly are more likely because of bad sleep quality and not their duration.

“Older adults may complain of waking up too early and not feeling rested despite accumulating substantial hours of sleep,” said Linda Waite, the Lucy Flower professor in urban sociology at the University of Chicago in the US.

The study found discrepancies between self-reported insomnia and outcomes recorded on a sleep-monitoring device.

The actigraph measurements showed that most of the older adults got sufficient amounts of sleep.

The actigraph provided data that showed the average duration of sleep period among the study participants was 7.9 hours and the average total sleep time was 7.25 hours

“This indicates that the majority of older adults are getting the recommended amount of sleep and usually not having common sleep problems,” Waite added.

Respondents who reported waking up more frequently during the night had more total sleep time.

“This suggests that a question about feeling rested may tap into other aspects of older adults’ everyday health or psychological experience,” Waite noted.

Older adults’ perception of sleep does not always match what is actually happening when a more objective assessment is used to monitor sleep patterns and behaviours, the study, published in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, pointed out.

It used data from 727 participants in the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project who were randomly invited to participate in an “Activity and Sleep Study”.

“Our findings suggest that reports of what seem like specific sleep problems may be due to other issues in their lives affecting their overall well-being,” Waite concluded.