Published Papers - Abstract 161

Byles J, Harris M & Mishra G. A good night's sleep: Sleeping difficulty and sleeping medication use among older Australian women. , 2002; :

Sleeping difficulties impact on quality of life among older Australians in particular, and daytime sleepiness increases the risk of falls and other accidents. The prevalence of sleeping medication use and the extent to which it is taken optimally also needs to be understood in order to develop effective health promotion strategies to minimize sleep disturbance and its consequences. Analysis of Women's Health Australia data from Surveys 1 and 2 of the older women showed a high prevalence of sleeping difficulties, with 63% of women endorsing at least one item relating to sleeping difficulty at Survey 2. Sleeping difficulties tended to be persistent, with sleeping difficulty at Survey 1 (1996) a strong predictor of the same problem at Survey 2 (1999). Sleeping difficulties at Survey 1 were cross-sectionally and prospectively predictive of poorer SF-36 scores, as well as predicting falls, accidents, and higher use of health services. Eleven individual interviews with participants explored older women's perceptions of the role of sleep, showing that older women felt that good sleep was very important to well-being and to good day-to-day functioning. Respondents were not favourably disposed to sleeping medications, expressing concerns about side effects and about dependency. On the basis of these findings, a substudy has been conducted with women with and without reports of sleeping difficulty, and with and without medication use. A total of 1,011 women (84% response rate) responded to a written survey. This paper presents data on the prevalence of sleeping difficulties across different groups of women, and demonstrates associations between sleeping difficulty and SF-36, depression, and major diagnoses. Women report a range of strategies to help them sleep, and have a variety of perspectives on the use of medications. These data provide a basis for the development of appropriate and targeted interventions to improve sleep quality among older Australian women.

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