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Sleep. 2004 May 1;27(3):527-31.

Impact of spouses' sleep problems on partners.

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  • 1Institute for Health and Aging, San Francisco, Calif 94118-0646, USA.



To analyze relationships between spouses' sleep problems and their partners' physical health, mental health, well-being, social involvement, and marital quality in a sample of older persons.


The Alameda County Study is a population-based longitudinal study focusing on behavioral factors associated with health and mortality.


Participants completed questionnaires for the sixth wave of data collection (1999).


405 couples (810 husbands and wives aged 51 to 94 years).


Participants were asked how often they had experienced difficulty falling asleep, waking up in the middle of the night, and waking up very early in the morning over the past month. Response sets ranged from "never" to "often." Scores were summed. Analyses included multivariate statistical models using generalized estimating equations to adjust for paired data as well as partner age, sex, chronic conditions, financial problems, and own sleep problems. Although partners' associations with negative outcomes were stronger for their own sleep problems, spouses' sleep problems were associated with partners' poor health, depressed mood, poor mental health, unhappiness, low optimism, feeling left out, not satisfied with relationships, and unhappy marriage, even after adjusting for the partners' sleep problems. We found no sex differences in associations between spouses' sleep problems and partners' outcomes.


Although data are cross-sectional, findings suggest that spouses' sleep problems negatively impact partners' health and well-being. Our analyses emphasize the importance of treating sleep problems to promote the health and well-being of both affected individuals and their partners.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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