PHILADELPHIA — Aging does not appear to be a factor in poor sleep, a new study by Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania shows. In fact, subjective sleep quality seems to improve over a lifetime, with the fewest complaints coming from people in their 80s. The new study is published in the journal SLEEP.
"This flies in the face of popular belief," said Michael Grandner, PhD, research associate at the Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology and lead author of the study. "These results force us to re-think what we know about sleep in older people — men and women."
The study examined rates of sleep disturbance and daytime fatigue reported by 155,877 adults participating in a randomized national telephone survey. Respondents were asked about sleep disturbances and daytime tiredness. The survey also asked about race, income, education, depressed mood, general health and time of last medical checkup. All responses were weighted so that they matched U.S. Census data.
Health problems and depression were associated with poor sleep, and women reported more sleep disturbances and tiredness than men. But except for an uptick in sleep problems during middle age — more pronounced in women than men — sleep quality improved consistently over a lifetime. Or at least that's how people reported their sleep.
"Even if sleep among older Americans is actually worse than in younger adults, feelings about it still improve with age," said Grandner. "Once you factor out things like illness and depression, older people should be reporting better sleep. If they're not, they need to talk to their doctor. They shouldn't just ignore it."
For more information, please see the SLEEP news release on the study.
Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $5.3 billion enterprise.
The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 18 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $373 million awarded in the 2015 fiscal year.
The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center -- which are recognized as one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report -- Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital -- the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Chestnut Hill Hospital and Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine.
Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2015, Penn Medicine provided $253.3 million to benefit our community.