Perception of sleep in the elderly
insomnia; older adults; diagnosis; perception of sleepThe results cast doubts about the usefulness of the common criteria (30 minutes sleep
onset latency and wake after sleep onset) used in clinical contexts to diagnose insomnia. Unrealistic
positive expectations about sleep changes with age can lower the threshold for complaining and thus
contribute to dissatisfaction and worry about sleep. Sedative-hypnotic drugs did seem to have limited
benefit for the participants in this study.For those generally satisfied with their sleep, mean sleep onset latency was 37 minutes and
mean wake after sleep onset was 38 minutes. It was further demonstrated that 59.2% of the sample had
unrealistic positive expectations (did not expect worsening of sleep with age) regarding sleep in old
age. Those using sedative-hypnotic medication (23.3%) were less satisfied with their sleep and felt less
refreshed during the day than non-users. Contrary to most studies, no general gender differences in
perception of sleep was revealed. The only exception was total sleep time where men reported more
sleep than women (6.78 vs. 6.15 hours) per day.A questionnaire focusing on the subjective experience of sleep was administered to 116 older
(60 years and above) visitors at 4 senior centres in Bergen, Norway.Discrepancies between objectively and subjectively measured sleep variables make diagnosing
insomnia in the elderly difficult. Also relevant to diagnosing insomnia in the elderly are expectations
about sleep, gender and use of sedative-hypnotic medication. The present study focuses on how
these variables relate to insomnia and sleep satisfaction.ABSTRACT
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