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Untreated Sleep Problems Compound Health Problems of Older Americans

© National Sleep Foundation

About one-third of older adults nap regularly, and the frequency of naps increases with age.

LIFESTYLE
To complete the picture of America's older adults and their sleep, the 2003 Sleep in America poll examines lifestyle factors that can impact the quantity and quality of sleep. Key findings include:

  • Older adults feel connected, not isolated. Three-fourths of older adults polled say it is very easy for them to find a family member or friend to talk to when needed. However the 25 percent who feel more isolated say they are more likely to sleep less than six hours a night (l9% vs.12%), and experience a symptom of insomnia (59% vs. 45%).
  • Older adults exercise. About one-half of older adults (52%) report exercising to improve their fitness three or more times a week. Only one-quarter of those polled say they exercise less than once a week. The more older people exercise, the less likely they are to describe their sleep quality as fair or poor (20% vs. 32%), and the less likely they are to report symptoms of insomnia (43% vs. 58%) than those who exercise infrequently.

WB&A Market Research conducted the 2003 Sleep in America poll for the National Sleep Foundation using telephone interviews with a random sample of 1506 adults aged 55-84, living in community dwellings (not institutions). The interviews were conducted between September l7 and December 10, 2002. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.5 percent.

The National Sleep Foundation is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to improving public health and safety by achieving understanding of sleep and sleep disorders, and by supporting public education, sleep-related research, and advocacy. Visit NSF's Web site for an Executive Summary of the 2003 poll and other sleep related information, www.sleepfoundation.org.

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