Sleep characteristics and self-rated health in older persons

Eur Geriatr Med. 2020 Feb;11(1):131-138. doi: 10.1007/s41999-019-00262-5. Epub 2019 Nov 13.


Purpose: It remains unclear, how much older persons' sleep problems are due to age-related changes in sleep architecture and pattern, or whether they are a consequence of health problems. This work aimed to examine the association between sleep characteristics and self-rated health, taking into account potential confounders.

Methods: Data about sleep, including sleep efficiency (ratio of sleep duration to the amount of time spent in bed, considered as good if > 85%), as well as health-rated characteristics were self-reported by community-dwelling persons enrolled in the Lausanne cohort 65+ study (n = 2712, age 66-75 years). Participants' subjective health was categorized as good versus poor. The cross-sectional association between good self-rated health and sleep characteristics was examined in bivariate and multivariate analysis.

Results: The majority of participants (68.4%) rated their health as good. Compared to the participants with poor-rated health, they more often reported a good sleep efficiency (59.5% vs 45.0%, p < 0.001) and less often reported napping (41.6% vs 54.0%, p < 0.001) as well as using sleep medication (12.7% vs 31.8%, p < 0.001). After adjustment for comorbidity, depressive symptoms and cognitive difficulties, a positive association persisted between good sleep efficiency and good self-rated health (adjOR: 1.35, 95% CI 1.10-1.66). Regular napping remained negatively associated to feel healthy (adjOR: 0.65, 95% CI 0.53-0.79).

Conclusion: Sleep efficiency is positively associated with subjective health, whereas napping and use of sleep medication are negatively associated to rating own health as good. These associations need to be further investigated in longitudinal analyses to better understand causality.

Keywords: Older persons; Sleep; Subjective health.