Fragmented sleep ''could increase risk of needing full-time care in old age''
A study carried out by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society has revealed an unlikely link between fragmented sleep patterns for older individuals and being placed in a nursing home.
In addition to more common risk factors associated with the development of problems like obstructive sleep apnoea, such as diabetes, obesity and smoking, the research showed older people who suffer from this problem could face a growing likelihood of institutionalisation.
Lead investigator Adam Spira of the Bloomberg School department of mental health commented: "Sleep disturbances are common in older people. Our results show that in community-dwelling older women, more fragmented sleep is associated with a greater risk of being placed in a nursing home or in a personal care home."
His team based their findings on statistical evidence from thousands of women across the US who recorded their sleep patterns over a five-year period. The results depicted a correlation between the amount of uninterrupted sleep people were getting and their need for institutionalisation - highlighting the significant impact a lack of restful sleep can have on a person's ability to function in daily life.
"Greater sleep fragmentation is associated with greater risk of placement in a nursing home or personal care home five years later after accounting for a number of potential confounders," concluded senior researcher Kristine Yaffe, professor of psychiatry, neurology, epidemiology and biostatistics at San Francisco's University of California.
Meanwhile, the Hindu Times recently reported that up to one-third of individuals who already suffer from ill health could also be demonstrating symptoms of broken sleep patterns.
Director of the Nithra Institute of Sleep Sciences N Ramakrishnan told the publication that obstructive sleep apnoea is a more common problem than many people realise and while there is no 100 per cent cure, there are treatments that can improve the quality of a person's sleep to help them reduce their risk of needing longer-term care as they get older.
Posted by Michael Ewing