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Want to stay out of the nursing home? Get a good nights sleep!

How to stay out of the nursing homeWho hasn’t struggled through a miserable nights sleep to find themselves dragging the following day?  Come 3 p.m. the following  afternoon, no amount of cold water or coffee can revive you from the fear of falling on your face.

What many of of experience in our younger as a seeming miserable inconvenience, not is suggested to have a real detrimental effect on the actual health of our elders.  The results of a sleep study of 1,700 elderly women with an average age of 83, strongly supports the correlation between a poor night’s sleep and an admission to a nursing home.

The study organized by researchers from Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health found that elders who experiernced regular spurts of ‘fragmented’ sleep during the nighttime hours were substantially more likely to find themselves residing at a skilled nursing facility than their peers with more steady sleeping habits.

According to Adam Spira, the assistant professor at Hopkins who was the lead author of the study;

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. We found that, compared to the 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.

While earlier studies of the sleep patterns of older adults had established a correlation between broken sleep and disability and reduced mobility, this is the first study that attempted to capture sleeps impact on nursing home admission.

My take:

I’m all for more studies about why people need nursing home care, but considered the negative implications of disrupted sleep on the elderly population, more attention needs to be focused on people presently living in nursing homes.

Many nursing homes fail to  differentiate between the way the facility is operated (and lighted) during its daylight hours and that of the evening. Hopefully, the disturbing results from this study will trigger another study to see if there is indeed a correlation between patient safety and getting a steady nights sleep.

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