FRIDAY, July 27, 2012 (HealthDay News) -- Getting good-quality sleep could help elderly people stay out of nursing homes, a new study contends.
Researchers assessed the sleep quality of nearly 1,700 older women with an average age of 83, and tracked how many were admitted to nursing homes within five years.
"Sleep disturbances are common in older people," lead author Adam Spira, assistant professor in the department of mental health at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, said in a university news release.
"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," Spira said. "We found that, compared to women with the least fragmented sleep, those who spent the most time awake after first falling asleep had about three times the odds of placement in a nursing home."
The researchers found similar associations between disturbed sleep and an increased likelihood of placement in personal-care homes, such as assisted-living facilities. The number of hours women slept each night, however, did not affect the chances of being placed in a nursing home or a personal-care home.
The study was published in the July issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
Previous research has linked disturbed sleep in older adults with disability, reduced mobility and difficulty doing daily activities, the authors noted in the news release. The new study adds to this knowledge.
"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," study senior author Dr. Kristine Yaffe, professor of psychiatry, neurology, and epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco, said in the news release.
Although the study found an association between sleep quality and nursing-home admission, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about sleep.