Published Papers - Abstract 67

Hasan S, Byles JE, Mishra G & Harris MA. Use of sleeping medication, and quality of life, among older women who report sleeping difficulty. Australasian Journal on Ageing, 2001; 20(1): 29-35

Objective: To estimate the proportion of older women who report sleeping difficulties and/or use sleeping medication; and to identity associated factors. Method: Cross sectional survey of Australian women aged 70-75 years. These women were participants in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health (ALSWH) randomly selected from the Australian Medicare database. Results: Of the 12,624 women aged 70-75 years who provided data for this analysis (36% response rate), 50% (n=6,042) reported sleeping difficulty never/rarely ; 33% (n=3,979) sometimes ; and, 17% (n=2,011) often . Approximately 18% (n=2,287) of women reported to use sleeping medication within the previous four weeks. Women reporting sleeping difficulty sometimes were over five times more likely to be taking sleeping medications than women who reported to never/rarely experiencing difficulties (p= < 0.0001); while women reporting difficulty sleeping often were over 15 times more likely to be using sleeping medications (p= < 0.0001). Mean scores for sub-scales of the SF-36 health-related quality of life measure were significantly lower for women reporting sleeping difficulty and women using sleeping medication (p= < 0.001). Similarly, there was an inverse relationship between the SF-36 physical and mental health summary scores and difficulty sleeping or sleeping medication use. Conclusions: Self-reported sleeping difficulty is significantly related to reduced quality of life, suggesting sleeping difficulty is not a benign complaint. After adjustment for other explanatory variables there were strong, clinically significant differences between the SF-36 scores of women reporting sleeping difficulty. However, while this association is statistically, and clinically significant, it is not clear whether sleeping difficulty reduces quality of life, or whether quality of life interferes with sleep, or whether both problems are a result of other associated conditions. Further longitudinal exploration of this relationship is necessary. Further, issues need to be explored with older women, with a view to identifying acceptable and effective alternatives to sleeping medication use.