Is Aging Sleeplessness Destiny? Age, Cohort and Gender Variations in Problem Sleep

Jen-Hao Chen , Rutgers University

Conventional wisdom and prior studies suggest that problematic sleep increases with age. However, extant evidence on the issue is limited for two reasons: the reliance on cross-sectional data and the confounding of age changes and cohort differences. Using accelerated longitudinal data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), this study addresses four questions: (1) Does the age growth trajectory show an increase in sleeplessness in late life?; (2) Is there cohort heterogeneity in the age growth trajectories of sleeplessness?; (3) Can social and health risk factors explain the age effect?; (4) Are there gender differences in the age growth trajectories of sleeplessness? The results show remarkable differences in the age growth trajectories of sleeplessness by gender. Specifically, problem sleep increased with age in women but not in men. For women, age growth trajectories were more rapid for earlier cohorts. The growth trajectories can be partially accounted for by education, economic resources, marital status, and declining health. The findings challenge the general hypothesis of increasing problem sleep with age.

See paper

 Presented in Session P2. Poster Session Ageing, Health and Mortality