Seniors’ Lack of Sleep Troubles

We all know how important “a good night’s sleep” can be for newborns, infants and small children. And even more so for their parents.

Back in the day (and depending on your cultural heritage), restless, crying children were described as “driving” their parents “to the loony bin” or “the funny farm.”

Now there’s evidence that regular and consistent good sleep can prevent seniors from entering nursing homes.

“Our results show that in community-dwelling older women, more fragmented sleep is associated with a greater risk of being placed in a nursing home or in a personal care home,” reports Adam Spira, Ph.D., lead author of the study and an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Spira and his associates reported in the July 2012 issue of the Journal of American Geriatrics Society that “compared to women with the least fragmented sleep, those who spent the most time awake after first falling asleep had about 3 times the odds of placement in a nursing home. Individuals with the lowest sleep efficiency – those who spent the smallest portion of their time in bed actually sleeping – also had about 3 times the odds of nursing home placements.”

While the authors found similar patterns of associations between disturbed sleep and placement in personal care homes, sleep duration per se did not predict placement in these settings.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has long warned that insufficient sleep is associated with chronic diseases and conditions – diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and depression, as well as motor vehicle and machinery-related accidents.

In the new study, researchers measured the sleep of women with a mean age of 83 from the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures; participants wore actigraphs – devices that record movement – on their non-dominant wrists for at least three days and the resulting data were used to characterize patterns of sleep and wakefulness. Demographic information, including place of residence, was gathered at the initial interview and again five years later.

The researchers reported, “ Greater sleep fragmentation is associated with greater risk of placement in a nursing home or personal care home 5 years later after accounting for a number of confounders,” noted Kristine Yaffe, M.D., senior author of the study and professor of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco.

Spires also noted that this was an observational study and the results cannot be considered causative. “We need more research to explain how sleep disturbance might lead to this outcome, and whether interventions to improve sleep might prevent it.”

Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy. D.

Brain Training Centers of Florida can help individuals overcome sleep issues through brain wave optimization using real time balancing. The Centers are open 7 days per week from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM in an effort to accommodate our clients. For further information, please call (305) 412-5050.

Posted in: Brain Training, Sleep Issues

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