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Perception of sleep in the elderly

Author(s): Ståle Pallesen | Inger Hilde Nordhus | Geir Høstmark Nielsen

Journal: Norsk Epidemiologi
ISSN 0803-2491

Volume: 8;
Issue: 2;
Date: 2009;
Original page

 Background:  Method:  Results:  Conclusion:  Key Words:  insomnia; older adults; diagnosis; perception of sleepThe results cast doubts about the usefulness of the common criteria (30 minutes sleeponset latency and wake after sleep onset) used in clinical contexts to diagnose insomnia. Unrealisticpositive expectations about sleep changes with age can lower the threshold for complaining and thuscontribute to dissatisfaction and worry about sleep. Sedative-hypnotic drugs did seem to have limitedbenefit for the participants in this study.For those generally satisfied with their sleep, mean sleep onset latency was 37 minutes andmean wake after sleep onset was 38 minutes. It was further demonstrated that 59.2% of the sample hadunrealistic positive expectations (did not expect worsening of sleep with age) regarding sleep in oldage. Those using sedative-hypnotic medication (23.3%) were less satisfied with their sleep and felt lessrefreshed during the day than non-users. Contrary to most studies, no general gender differences inperception of sleep was revealed. The only exception was total sleep time where men reported moresleep than women (6.78 vs. 6.15 hours) per day.A questionnaire focusing on the subjective experience of sleep was administered to 116 older(60 years and above) visitors at 4 senior centres in Bergen, Norway.Discrepancies between objectively and subjectively measured sleep variables make diagnosinginsomnia in the elderly difficult. Also relevant to diagnosing insomnia in the elderly are expectationsabout sleep, gender and use of sedative-hypnotic medication. The present study focuses on howthese variables relate to insomnia and sleep satisfaction.ABSTRACT
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