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Study shows that older adult caregivers of people with dementia have worse sleep than noncaregivers
Date:8/14/2008

Westchester, Ill.A study in the August 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine shows that the sleep patterns of older adults who live with and provide direct care during the night for a person with dementia are significantly worse than other older adults.

When sleep was measured objectively, and after adjusting for depressive symptoms, age, health condition and education, adults who take care of a person suffering from dementia took longer to fall sleep and had less total sleep than noncaregivers. Caregivers slept for an average of about 6.5 hours per night, which was about 33 minutes less than noncaregivers, and they took about 10 minutes longer to fall asleep. Caregiver sleep also was more variable from night-to-night, and caregivers reported lower subjective sleep quality, had higher scores of daytime sleepiness on the Epworth Sleepiness Scale and had higher depressive symptom scores.

"On average, caregivers only slept about six -and-a-half hours a night and took almost 23 minutes to fall asleep," said primary investigator Meredith Rowe, PhD, associate professor at the University of Florida. "Using the sleep diary data that subjects kept at the same time, however, depression was the primary determinant of poor sleep with depressed subjects reporting less time asleep and more wake time over the week."

According to Rowe, the most surprising finding of the study was that the caregiver group took a longer time to fall asleep, which is consistent with the greater worry and concern that caregivers may have. The researchers had expected the caregivers' main sleep problem to be more time awake in the middle of the night when the person with dementia needed supervision. The difference between groups was not significant, however, as both caregivers and noncaregivers had an average of more than 40 minutes of time awake during the night after initially falling asleep.

Sleep patterns were measured by actigr
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Contact: Kelly Wagner
kwagner@aasmnet.org
708-492-0930
American Academy of Sleep Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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