Sleep and Mental Health in the General Population of Elderly Women

Kathryn M. Thomas, Lauren A. Redd, Joshua D. Wright, Jessica L. Hartos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Sleep and mental health complaints are prevalent in the elderly and share common risk factors. We assessed the relationship between sleep and mental health in three representative samples of elderly women while controlling for multiple risk factors common to both. We performed this cross sectional secondary data analysis in 2015 using 2013 data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) for females ages 65 years and older from California (N = 1912), Florida (N = 9120), and Pennsylvania (N = 2429). We conducted multiple logistic regression analysis to assess the relationship between sleep duration group (short, moderate/reference, or long) and mental health issues in the past 30 days (yes or no) in elderly females, while controlling for multiple covariates. About 25% of the elderly females reported mental health issues and 20% reported short or long sleep durations. In adjusted analysis, compared to the elderly females in the moderate sleep duration group (averaging 6–8 h of sleep per day), those in the short and long sleep duration groups had increased prevalence of mental health issues by 66% and 26%, respectively. Mental health was also related to physical health issues including general health status, activity limitations, and chronic health conditions. Overall, sleep was related to mental health in representative samples of elderly females even after controlling for risk factors common to both. Even though we could not determine the direction of influence, the findings indicate a need for clinicians to screen their elderly female patients for both sleep and mental health issues, especially in those with physical health comorbidities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)495-503
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Primary Prevention
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2017


  • Elderly
  • Health comorbidities
  • Older adults
  • Preventive medicine
  • Sleep


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