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Differences in Self-Reported Sleep Complaints in Elderly Persons Living in the Community Who Do or Do Not Take Sleep Medication

Sabine Englert and Michael Linden

Published: March 15, 1998

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Article Abstract

Background: Sleep disorders and the use of sleepmedication are major health issues. Since complaints about sleepdisturbances are subjective phenomena, the aim of the presentstudy was to investigate which sleep complaints and self-reporteddisturbances of sleep behavior are connected with the utilizationof sleep medication.

Method: In the Berlin Aging Study, a randomsample of 516 persons aged 70 to over 100 underwent extensivepsychiatric and medical examinations including several medicationassessments and a special interview on sleep complaints and sleepbehavior.

Results: 19.1% of the elderly were taking someform of sleep medication. Univariate and discriminant analysesshowed that neither self-reported duration of sleep time nordifficulties with sleeping through the night but complaints aboutdifficulties initiating sleep and global complaints aboutdisturbed sleep differentiated between those who do or do nottake sleep medication.

Conclusion: Persons taking sleep medicationnevertheless have a higher rate of sleep-related complaints thanthose who take no medication. Waking up in the night per se doesnot discriminate between drug users and controls. Instead, it isthe inability to fall asleep or fall back into sleep after wakingand global discontent with subjective sleep quality that make adifference.

Volume: 59

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