Study objectives: To describe the distribution of nocturnal sleep characteristics and reports of daytime sleepiness in a large well-defined group of healthy adults.
Design: The Sleep Heart Health Study is a multicenter study examining sleep and cardiopulmonary parameters through nocturnal polysomnography in adults enrolled in geographically distinct cardiovascular cohorts.
Setting: Community setting.
Participants: 470 subjects enrolled in the Sleep Heart Health Study (n = 6440) were selected as a 'normative' group based on screening of health conditions and daily habits that could interfere with sleep.
Measurements and results: Home-based nocturnal polysomnography was obtained on all participants and centrally scored for sleep and respiratory parameters. Demographic and health-related data were obtained and updated at the time of the home visit. Sleep efficiency decreased by 1.6% for each 10 years of increased age. Sleep time decreased by 0.1 hours (6.0 minutes) for each 10-year age increase and was longer in women. The arousal index increased by 0.8 for each 10-year increase in age and was lower by 1.4 in women. Women had a lower mean percentage of stage 1 and stage 2 sleep. Mean percentage of slow-wave sleep was higher in women (by 6.7%). Percentage of slow-wave sleep decreased with increased age for men only (by 1.9% for each 10-year age change).
Conclusions: Data suggest a clear lessening in the quantity and quality of sleep with age that appears to be more rapid in males compared to females.