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How well does Europe sleep? A comparative study of sleeping problems in European older adults

Vera van de Straat (UGent) and Piet Bracke (UGent)
Author
Organization
Abstract
Background: Poor sleep has been found to be strongly related to a wide range of negative health outcomes. In the association between sleep and health, it is not so much the amount of hours one sleeps, but how well one sleeps that is important. Although this highlights the importance of identifying the determinants of poor sleep quality, relatively little research has in fact paid attention to this aspect of sleep. Objectives: In this study we try to provide more insight into the socio-demographic and socioeconomic determinants of suffering from sleeping problems in Europe’s older adults. Using cross-national data we add to the fairly limited literature examining cross-country differences in the prevalence of sleeping problems. By specifically focussing on individuals over the age of 50, we hope to disentangle the positive association between age and trouble sleeping that has been found repeatedly. Methods: Data from the fourth wave of the Survey of Health Ageing and Retirement in Europe (2011/2012) are used to perform logistic regression analyses, the dependent variable being whether or not one has been bothered by sleeping problems for at least six months. The dataset consists of data from 37370 individuals aged 50 and older and their current partners or spouses from 16 European countries. Results: Preliminary results show that about 24% of respondents were bothered by sleeping problems in the past six months. This prevalence varied between the different European countries, from 16,8% in both Denmark and the Netherlands to 31,1% in Poland. Age is found to be positively associated with sleeping problems. Women are 1,7 times more likely to suffer from sleeping problems than men. Compared to married individuals, the divorced and widowed respondents reported suffering from sleeping problems significantly more often. For widowed respondents, the chance of reporting trouble sleeping was 1,3 times higher than for married individuals. No difference was found between the married and those who remained single throughout their lives. Less sleeping problems are reported by the higher educated. Another socio-economic variable that appears to be associated with the perception of sleep quality is the current job situation. Compared to the retired respondents, homemakers and the employed experience less trouble sleeping, whereas the unemployed and the permanently sick or disabled individuals experience more trouble sleeping. Retirement appears to be associated with a 1,6 times higher chance of reporting sleeping problems compared to those in employment. Additional analyses will be performed to further examine the aforementioned results, to try to disentangle the positive association between age and sleeping problems and to look into the between-country differences that seem to be present. Discussion/Conclusion: Our study has shown that age, sex, marital status, educational level and the current job situation are factors associated with the experience of sleeping problems. In trying to disentangle the positive association between age and sleep quality, the findings that retirement compared to employment and widowhood compared to marriage are related to more sleeping problems needs to be investigated further. Both retirement and widowhood are potentially stressful life events that usually occur at a later age and may influence the age-sleep association.

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Chicago
van de Straat, Vera, and Piet Bracke. 2014. “How Well Does Europe Sleep? A Comparative Study of Sleeping Problems in European Older Adults.” In 17th Meeting of the Section of Epidemiology and Social Psychiatry of the European Psychiatric Association, Abstracts.
APA
van de Straat, V., & Bracke, P. (2014). How well does Europe sleep? A comparative study of sleeping problems in European older adults. 17th meeting of the Section of Epidemiology and Social Psychiatry of the European Psychiatric Association, Abstracts. Presented at the 17th meeting of the Section of Epidemiology and Social Psychiatry of the European Psychiatric Association (EPA - 2014).
Vancouver
1.
van de Straat V, Bracke P. How well does Europe sleep? A comparative study of sleeping problems in European older adults. 17th meeting of the Section of Epidemiology and Social Psychiatry of the European Psychiatric Association, Abstracts. 2014.
MLA
van de Straat, Vera, and Piet Bracke. “How Well Does Europe Sleep? A Comparative Study of Sleeping Problems in European Older Adults.” 17th Meeting of the Section of Epidemiology and Social Psychiatry of the European Psychiatric Association, Abstracts. 2014. Print.
@inproceedings{4401453,
  abstract     = {Background: Poor sleep has been found to be strongly related to a wide range of negative health outcomes. In the association between sleep and health, it is not so much the amount of hours one sleeps, but how well one sleeps that is important. Although this highlights the importance of identifying the determinants of poor sleep quality, relatively little research has in fact paid attention to this aspect of sleep. Objectives: In this study we try to provide more insight into the socio-demographic and socioeconomic determinants of suffering from sleeping problems in Europe{\textquoteright}s older adults. Using cross-national data we add to the fairly limited literature examining cross-country differences in the prevalence of sleeping problems. By specifically focussing on individuals over the age of 50, we hope to disentangle the positive association between age and trouble sleeping that has been found repeatedly. Methods: Data from the fourth wave of the Survey of Health Ageing and Retirement in Europe (2011/2012) are used to perform logistic regression analyses, the dependent variable being whether or not one has been bothered by sleeping problems for at least six months. The dataset consists of data from 37370 individuals aged 50 and older and their current partners or spouses from 16 European countries. Results: Preliminary results show that about 24\% of respondents were bothered by sleeping problems in the past six months. This prevalence varied between the different European countries, from 16,8\% in both Denmark and the Netherlands to 31,1\% in Poland.  Age is found to be positively associated with sleeping problems. Women are 1,7 times more likely to suffer from sleeping problems than men. Compared to married individuals, the divorced and widowed respondents reported suffering from sleeping problems significantly more often. For widowed respondents, the chance of reporting trouble sleeping was 1,3 times higher than for married individuals. No difference was found between the married and those who remained single throughout their lives. Less sleeping problems are reported by the higher educated. Another socio-economic variable that appears to be associated with the perception of sleep quality is the current job situation. Compared to the retired respondents, homemakers and the employed experience less trouble sleeping, whereas the unemployed and the permanently sick or disabled individuals experience more trouble sleeping. Retirement appears to be associated with a 1,6 times higher chance of reporting sleeping problems compared to those in employment. Additional analyses will be performed to further examine the aforementioned results, to try to disentangle the positive association between age and sleeping problems and to look into the between-country differences that seem to be present. Discussion/Conclusion: Our study has shown that age, sex, marital status, educational level and the current job situation are factors associated with the experience of sleeping problems. In trying to disentangle the positive association between age and sleep quality, the findings that retirement compared to employment and widowhood compared to marriage are related to more sleeping problems needs to be investigated further. Both retirement and widowhood are potentially stressful life events that usually occur at a later age and may influence the age-sleep association.},
  author       = {van de Straat, Vera and Bracke, Piet},
  booktitle    = {17th meeting of the Section of Epidemiology and Social Psychiatry of the European Psychiatric Association, Abstracts},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {Ulm, Germany},
  title        = {How well does Europe sleep? A comparative study of sleeping problems in European older adults},
  year         = {2014},
}