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Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2005 Oct;20(10):956-66.

Sleep disturbances in the elderly residing in assisted living: findings from the Maryland Assisted Living Study.

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Division of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neuropsychiatry, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.



A majority of the elderly suffer from some sort of sleep disturbance. Common sleep disturbances are insomnia and excessive daytime sleepiness. There are no published studies on the prevalence of sleep disturbance in the assisted living (AL) setting.


To estimate the prevalence, types, and associations of sleep disturbance in a stratified random sample of AL residents, and to explore the effect of sleep disturbance on cognitive and physical functioning, as assessed by the Mini- Mental State Exam (MMSE) and the Psychogeriatric Dependency Rating Scale (PGDRS).


Participants were 198 randomly selected assisted living residents in 22 Maryland facilities. Participants were rated on an 11-item sleep questionnaire regarding insomnia and daytime sleepiness.


Sleep disturbance was present in 69% of residents, insomnia (IN) in 42% and excessive daytime sleepiness (DS) in 34.6%. IN and DS scores were not significantly correlated(r = 0.10, p = 0.19). Use of hypnotics, sedating antidepressants, and depression were associated with insomnia. Depression and poor general medical health were associated with daytime sleepiness. On a cognitive task (Mini Mental State Examination) participants with insomnia only out-performed participants with no sleep disturbance and daytime sleepiness; on a measure of physical function (PsychoGeriatric Dependency Rating Scale- physical domain), participants with insomnia fared better than those with daytime sleepiness only and those with both insomnia and daytime sleepiness. Participants with DS only performed worse on both measures compared to those with no sleep disturbance, those with insomnia only, and those with both insomnia and daytime sleepiness.


The prevalence of sleep disturbance in AL is similar to that reported in nursing homes. Daytime sleepiness is associated with poorer cognitive and day-to-day functioning, while insomnia is associated with better outcomes. Effective management of DS may lead to improved functioning in the AL residents.

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