WESTCHESTER, Ill. Widowed seniors are more likely to have disrupted sleep when studied at least four months after the loss event, according to a research abstract that will be presented on Wednesday at SLEEP 2008, the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS).
The study, authored by Timothy H. Monk, PhD, of the University of Pittsburgh, focused on 28 spousally bereaved seniors aged 60 years and older, who underwent a laboratory study of sleep and circadian rhythms. Measures taken included two nights of polysomnography, 36 hours of continuous core body temperature monitoring, and four assessments of mood and alertness throughout a day. Preceding the laboratory study, two-week diaries were completed, allowing the assessment of lifestyle regularity and the timing of sleep. Also assessed was grief, depression, and sleep quality.
According to the results, grief was still present. Sleep was subjectively poor, short and fairly inefficient. There was a slight trend for higher grief to be associated with less time spent asleep and with reduced alertness.
For most people, spousal bereavement is the most devastating life event that they will ever experience, said Dr. Monk. It happens in the lives of more than 800,000 older Americans every year. In our study, we found significant sleep disruption in spousally bereaved seniors. However, this disruption does not appear to be due to bereavement-related disruptions in the circadian system, although grief related differences in the time of day effect in alertness were apparent. Daily lifestyle regularity was slightly reduced in the bereaved group relative to non-bereaved seniors, but it did not differ by grief severity.
Not sleeping well can lead to a number of problems. Older adults who have poor nighttime sleep are more likely to have a depressed mood, attention and memory problems, excessive daytime sleepiness, more nighttime falls and use more ov
|Contact: Kathleen McCann|
American Academy of Sleep Medicine