Habitually getting a good night's sleep can significantly reduce the odds of being placed in a nursing home or assisted living facility in old age, new research shows.
Health experts at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found women who routinely have fragmented or interrupted sleep are three times more likely to require care in an institutional facility in their later years than those who sleep through the night.
"Sleep disturbances are common in older people," said Adam Spira, lead author of the study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. "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.
“We found that, compared to women with the least fragmented sleep, those who spent the most time awake after first falling asleep had about three times the odds of placement in a nursing home. Individuals with the lowest sleep efficiency – those who spent the smallest proportion of their time in bed actually sleeping – also had about three times the odds of nursing home placement."
The authors found the amount of sleep per night did not predict the likelihood of institutionalization.
Insufficient sleep is associated with a variety of chronic diseases and conditions, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Previous studies have also tied insufficient sleep to motor vehicle and machinery-related crashes, as well as disability in older adults and impairment in activities of daily living and mobility.
For the new study, researchers tracked the sleep of older women – with a mean age of 83 years old – for at least three days, then followed them for five years to determine which had been admitted to a nursing home or assisted living facility.
"Greater sleep fragmentation is associated with greater risk of placement in a nursing home or personal care home five years later after accounting for a number of potential confounders," said co-researcher Dr. Kristine Yaffe.
The study was funded, in part, in part by the National Institute on Aging and the National Institutes of Health.