Perceived Effectiveness of Diverse Sleep Treatments in Older Adults
J Am Geriatr Soc. 2011 Feb;59(2):297-303. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2010.03247
OBJECTIVES: To describe the different methods that older adults use to treat sleep problems and the perceived effectiveness of these methods.
DESIGN: Cross-sectional study of treatment patterns for sleep disorders using a mailed questionnaire that gathered information concerning sleep history, demographics, and treatment choices.
PARTICIPANTS: Community-based sample of adults aged 65 and older, of whom 242 responded (67% response rate).
MEASUREMENTS: Standardized questionnaires to assess sleep parameters (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index), demographic information, and sleep treatment options.
RESULTS: Study participants engaged in a variety of treatment regimens to improve their sleep, with the average number of treatments attempted being 4.8±2.9. The most commonly used interventions were watching television or listening to the radio (66.4%) and reading (56.2%). The most commonly used pharmacotherapy was pain medication (40.1%). Prescription sleeping pills had the greatest self-reported effectiveness. Approximately half of all study participants who used alcohol or over-the-counter sleep aids had not discussed their sleep problems with their doctor.
CONCLUSION: Older adults frequently choose treatments for their sleep problems that can potentially worsen their sleep symptoms. Many patients have not spoken to their healthcare provider about their treatment choices. These findings highlight the importance of discussing sleep habits and self-treatment choices, as well as treating sleep disorders, in older adults.
© 2011, Copyright the Authors. Journal compilation © 2011, The American Geriatrics Society.