Study objectives: To examine sleep habits, insomnia, and hypnotic use in the elderly in China.
Design and setting: A cross-sectional survey in 5 cities of Shandong, mainland China in 1997.
Participants: Among 1,820 individuals aged 65 and older who were sampled, 1,679 (92.2%) were interviewed at home, including 770 men and 909 women.
Measurements: Asleep and demographic questionnaire that included the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index was used for interviews.
Results: Average bedtime of participants was 9:18 PM (SD = 2.2 hours), and morning rise time was 5:42 AM (SD = 1.0 hour). Reported night sleep duration was 7.1 hours (SD = 1.6) without age and sex differences. Regular napping was more common in men than in women (44.2% vs 28.0%). Of the sample, 32.9% reported frequent insomnia symptoms, and 8.9% had insomnia symptoms with daytime consequences. Multivariate analysis indicated that age 75 years and older (odds ratio = 2.0), female sex (odds ratio = 1.4), unmarried status (odds ratio = 1.7), frequent napping (odds ratio = 1.5), and poor perceived health (odds ratio, = 2.1) were associated with elevated risks for insomnia. Hypnotic use during the past month was reported by 6.5% of the sample; women were 2 times as likely as men to use hypnotics.
Conclusion: Sleep patterns in Chinese elderly may be characterized by going to bed early and waking up early. Insomnia symptoms are as common among Chinese as among Western elderly. Further study is warranted to examine the association between insomnia and aging per se in Chinese elderly.