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The Course of Subjective Sleep Quality in Middle and Old Adulthood and Its Relation to Physical Health


  • Sakari Lemola
  • David Richter


Objective: Older adults more often complain about sleep disturbances compared to younger adults. However, it is not clear whether there is still a decline of sleep qualityafter age 60 and whether changes in sleep quality in old age are mere reflections of impaired physical health or whether they represent a normative age dependent development. Method: Subjective sleep quality and perceived physical health were assessed in a large representative sample of 14,179 participants (52.7% females; age range 18-85) from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study across 4 yearly measurement time points. Results: Subjective sleep quality linearly declined from young adulthood until age 60. After age 60 a transient increase in subjective sleep quality occurred that coincides with retirement. Physical health prospectively predicted subjective sleep quality and vice versa. These relations were similar for participants above and below age 60. Discussion: Around retirement a transient increase in subjective sleep quality occurs, which may reflect a decrease in work related distress or an increase in flexibility to organize the day according to one's circadian preferences. Perceived physical health is important for subjective sleep quality in old adults, but not more important than at younger age.

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  • Sakari Lemola & David Richter, 2012. "The Course of Subjective Sleep Quality in Middle and Old Adulthood and Its Relation to Physical Health," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 516, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp516

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Christina S. McCrae & Meredeth A. Rowe & Candece G. Tierney & Natalie D. Dautovich & Allison L. DeFinis & Joseph P. H. McNamara, 2005. "Sleep Complaints, Subjective and Objective Sleep Patterns, Health, Psychological Adjustment, and Daytime Functioning in Community-Dwelling Older Adults," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 60(4), pages 182-189.
    2. Jule Specht & Boris Egloff & Stefan C. Schmukle, 2011. "Stability and Change of Personality across the Life Course: The Impact of Age and Major Life Events on Mean-Level and Rank-Order Stability of the Big Five," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 377, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    3. Wrzus, Cornelia & Brandmaier, Andreas M. & von Oertzen, Timo & Müller, Viktor & Wagner, Gert G. & Riediger, Michaela, 2012. "A New Approach for Assessing Sleep Duration and Postures from Ambulatory Accelerometry," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 48089-48089.
    4. Gert G. Wagner & Joachim R. Frick & Jürgen Schupp, 2007. "The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) – Scope, Evolution and Enhancements," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 127(1), pages 139-169.
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    Cited by:

    1. Peter Eibich, 2014. "Understanding the Effect of Retirement on Health Using Regression Discontinuity Design," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 669, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    2. Billari, Francesco C. & Giuntella, Osea & Stella, Luca, 2017. "Broadband Internet, Digital Temptations, and Sleep," IZA Discussion Papers 11050, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Eibich, Peter, 2015. "Understanding the effect of retirement on health: Mechanisms and heterogeneity," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 1-12.

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    Sleep quality; Physical health; Old age; Retirement; German Socio-Economic Panel Study;

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