Categories: Sleep Science

New Study Reveals Restful Sleep More Valuable than Longer Sleep

According to a new study, quality is more important than quantity when it comes to restful sleep. The study, exploring the relationship between insomnia and “objective assessments of sleep in the general population of older adults, reveals that seniors should focus more on quality of sleep than quantity of sleep in order to feel better rested.

The study involved more than 727 adults between the ages of 62 and 91 who were asked the following questions related to sleep.

  • How often do you feel rested upon waking?
  • How often do you have difficulty falling asleep?
  • How often do you wake up during the night?
  • How often do you wake up too early and find it difficult to or are unable to go back to sleep?

The actigraphy, which is a wristwatch-like device that monitors things like sleep patterns and movements, recorded the nighttime activities of each participant to facilitate comparisons.

The results to the questionnaires were then compared to results of three nights of actigraphy study. The results were also adjusted according to statistical analysis for race, gender, age, income, ethnicity, education, and assets.

Once the assessments were handled and adjustments made, the study determined that feeling rested had little to do with what the actigraphy defines as sleep characteristics.

One thing worth noting is that while many adults complained of insomnia as a recurring problem for themselves, NewsWise reports that these claims were not backed up by the results of the actigraphy, which reported they were getting an adequate amount of sleep, suggesting that perceptions of sleep were not always a clear indication of what’s actually going on.

Another interesting discovery from the study is that people who complained of waking frequently during the night actually made up the midnight wanderings by having more total sleep times than those who typically sleep through the night.

Why is Sleep so Important?

Psych Central reports that there is substantial correlation between restorative sleep, more specifically the lack thereof, and heart disease, falls, and diminishing cognitive and daytime functioning.

With nearly 30 percent of adults reporting some form of insomnia, it’s definitely a problem worth exploring.

Study results, though, show that perhaps the focus for older adults not feeling well rested may need to be shifted from concerns over the number of hours slept to things that impact the quality of sleep older adults are getting instead.

Linda Waite tells IBN Live, “Our findings suggest that reports of what seem like specific sleep problems from survey questions may be more accurately viewed as indicators of general problems or dissatisfaction with sleep that may be due to other issues in their lives affecting their overall well-being.”

The bottom line is that while the problem of sleep among the elderly may seem substantial, the data doesn’t really back up the idea that sleep itself, at least not the amount seniors are getting, is the real problem. Now it’s time to shift the focus to quality over quantity. One way to do that is to be sure seniors have a comfortable mattress to sleep on.

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Amber Merton

Amber Merton is an accomplished writer on the topics of green living and sleep. Her work has been covered in numerous online publications. Amber has been a regular author on the PlushBeds blog for the past 7 years.

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