Sleep: A marker of physical and mental health in the elderly

Kathryn J. Reid, Zoran Martinovich, Sanford Finkel, Judy Statsinger, Robyn Golden, Kathryne Harter, Phyllis C. Zee*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

197 Scopus citations


Objective: The objective of this study was to determine the occurrence and recognition of common sleep-related problems and their relationship to health-related quality-of-life measures in the elderly. Method: A total of 1,503 participants with a mean age of 75.5 (± 6.8, range: 62-100) years from 11 primary care sites serving primarily elderly patients were interviewed. Subjects completed a five-item sleep questionnaire and the SF-12. A Physical Component Summary (PCS-12) and Mental Component Summary (MCS-12) score was calculated. A systematic medical chart review was conducted to determine whether sleep problems were identified by the healthcare providers. Results: A total of 68.9% of patients reported at least one sleep complaint and 40% had two or more. Participants most commonly endorsed (45%) that they had "difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or being able to sleep." The number and type of sleep problems endorsed was associated with both physical and mental health quality-of-life status. Excessive daytime sleepiness was the best predictor of poor mental and physical health-related quality of life. Even when all five sleep questions were endorsed, a sleep complaint was only reported in the chart 19.2% of the time. Conclusions: When elicited, sleep complaints predicted the general physical and mental health-related quality-of-life status in elderly populations with comorbid medical and mental illnesses. Yet, questions regarding sleep are not an integral component of most clinical evaluations. Given the growing evidence of a relationship between sleep and health, identification of sleep disorders could lead to improved management of common age-related chronic illnesses and quality of life of elderly patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)860-866
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2006


  • Aging
  • Mental health
  • Physical health
  • Sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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