Differences in Self-Reported Sleep Complaints in Elderly Persons Living in the Community Who Do or Do Not Take Sleep Medication [CME]
J Clin Psychiatry 1998;59(3):137-144
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Background: Sleep disorders and the use of sleep
medication are major health issues. Since complaints about sleep
disturbances are subjective phenomena, the aim of the present
study was to investigate which sleep complaints and self-reported
disturbances of sleep behavior are connected with the utilization
of sleep medication.
Method: In the Berlin Aging Study, a random
sample of 516 persons aged 70 to over 100 underwent extensive
psychiatric and medical examinations including several medication
assessments and a special interview on sleep complaints and sleep
Results: 19.1% of the elderly were taking some
form of sleep medication. Univariate and discriminant analyses
showed that neither self-reported duration of sleep time nor
difficulties with sleeping through the night but complaints about
difficulties initiating sleep and global complaints about
disturbed sleep differentiated between those who do or do not
take sleep medication.
Conclusion: Persons taking sleep medication
nevertheless have a higher rate of sleep-related complaints than
those who take no medication. Waking up in the night per se does
not discriminate between drug users and controls. Instead, it is
the inability to fall asleep or fall back into sleep after waking
and global discontent with subjective sleep quality that make a