Subjective sleep characteristics associated with anxiety and depression in older adults: a population-based study




Sleep complaints are often associated with anxiety and depression, but the specific complaints related to each syndrome are poorly characterized, especially in older adults. The objective was to identify subjective sleep characteristics specific to anxiety and depression in this population.


A random sample of 2393 individuals aged 65 years or older was used. Anxiety and depression were categorized using DSM-V criteria for phobias, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, unspecified anxiety disorder, major depressive episode, and depressive episode with insufficient symptoms. Subjective sleep characteristics were measured using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index. Logistic regression models predicting anxiety or depression were used to determine the independent sleep characteristics associated with each syndrome adjusting for age, sex, education level, cognitive functioning, anxiolytic/sedative/hypnotic use, antidepressants use, subjective health, chronic diseases, cardiovascular conditions, and anxiety or depression (as appropriate).


Nearly all Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index subscales were significantly associated with anxiety, but these subscales shared variance and only sleep duration in hours, sleep disturbance score, and daytime functioning score were independently related to anxiety. Within these significant subscales, the main specific sleep complaints associated with anxiety were daytime sleepiness and sleep disturbances related to coughing/snoring, feeling cold, and bad dreams. The use of sleeping medication was the only specific sleep characteristic associated with depression.


These results suggest that in older adults, symptoms of short sleep duration, daytime sleepiness and sleep disturbances are independently related to anxiety while the use of sleep medication is independently associated to depression. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.