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Aging News & Information

Senior Citizens with Sleep Problems May Have Suffered Emotional Abuse in Childhood

Research points specifically to emotional abuse, rather than physical abuse or emotional neglect

June 8, 2011 - Many senior citizens who suffer through sleepless nights in old age may find the root of their problem goes back to a very early age – when they were emotionally abused by their parents.

An analysis of data from 877 adults age 60 years and above found that early parental emotional abuse was associated with a higher number of sleep complaints in old age, according to a research article in the current issue of the Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological and Social Sciences.

 

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It was specifically emotional abuse - rather than physical abuse or emotional neglect - that was tied to trouble in getting a good night’s sleep.

“A negative early attachment continues to exert an influence on our well being decades later through an accumulation of stressful interpersonal experiences across our lives,” said Cecilia Y. M. Poon, MA, the study’s lead author. “The impact of abuse stays in the system. Emotional trauma may limit a person’s ability to fend for themselves emotionally and successfully navigate the social world”

The data was taken from the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States. In 1995, approximately 3,500 adults responded to questions about their childhood. A decade later, they were asked follow-up questions about sleep, relationships, and emotional distress. Poon's study looked at the answers from those age 60 and above.

During the second round of interviews, the participants were asked how often within the previous 30 day they had
   ● trouble falling asleep,
   ● woke up during the night and had difficulty going back to sleep,
   ● woke up too early in the morning and were unable to get back to sleep, and
   ● felt unrested during the day no matter how many hours of sleep they had.

Emotional abuse was assessed by asking participants how often their mother and father insulted or swore at them, sulked or refused to talk to them, stomped out of the room, did or said something to spite them, threatened to hit them, or smashed or knocked something in anger.

The same survey found that emotional abuse during childhood also was associated with poorer relationships in adulthood. Poon speculated that this lack of support, associated with stress, likely influences sleep quality.

The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological and Social Sciences is a refereed publication of The Gerontological Society of America (GSA), the nation's oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging. The principal mission of the Society — and its 5,400+ members — is to advance the study of aging and disseminate information among scientists, decision makers, and the general public. GSA’s structure also includes a policy institute, the National Academy on an Aging Society, and an educational branch, the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education.


Senior Citizens and Sleep Problems

Older adults need about the same amount of sleep as younger adults (7 to 9 hours nightly), according to Mayo Clinic sleep specialist Timothy Morgenthaler, M.D.

Although, a study published in the February, 2010, issue of the journal SLEEP, reported older adults sleep about 20 minutes less than middle-aged adults, who sleep 23 minutes less than young adults.

“As you get older, however, your sleeping patterns may change. Older adults tend to sleep more lightly and awaken more frequently during the night than do younger adults. This may create a need for or tendency toward daytime napping,” Dr. Morgenthaler writes in a Mayo Clinic Q&A.

“If your sleep is frequently interrupted or cut short, you're not getting quality sleep — and the quality of your sleep is just as important as the quantity,” he adds.

Dr. Morgenthaler points out that lack of sleep can affect your immune system.

“Studies show that people who don't get a good night's sleep or who don't get enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as the common cold. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick,” he says.

“During sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines. These substances increase in the presence of an infection, inflammation and stress. Increased cytokines are necessary in fighting infection and regulating deeper sleep. In addition, other infection-fighting cells are reduced during periods of sleep deprivation. So, your body needs sleep to fight infectious diseases.

“How much sleep do you need to bolster your immune system? The optimal amount of sleep for most adults is seven to eight hours a night. School-aged children and adolescents need nine or more hours of sleep a night.

“But be careful; more sleep is not always better. For adults, sleeping more than nine to 10 hours a night has been associated with weight gain, heart problems, stroke, sleep disorders, depression and other health concerns.”

>> More at the Mayo Clinic’s Website on Insomnia.

More links to news about sleep and senior citizens

Sleep Apnea Connection to Stroke and Death Explained by New Study

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Particularly when it occurs with elevated nighttime blood pressure; sleep patterns should be checked for those with high blood pressure

Nov. 12, 2008


Elderly Women Increase Their Risk of Falling with Less Than Five Hours Sleep

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Sept. 8, 2008


Study Indicates Older People Just Need Less Sleep than Young Adults

With the same time in bed, older people take longer to fall asleep and sleep for less time than younger people do

July 25, 2008


Older Women Who Nap Less, Go Back to Sleep Easily Achieve Healthy Aging

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June 11, 2008


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Senior Citizens Toss and Turn with Many Sleep Problems that Come with Aging

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Sleep Problems Among the Elderly Linked to Suicide Risk

Many older adults get less sleep than needed due to trouble falling asleep - June 14, 2007


Sleep Disruption Linked to Increased Cardiovascular Risk

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Mistake for Doctors to Neglect Insomnia Treatment in Older Patients

Excessive daytime sleepiness is best predictor of poor health

January 3, 2007


Tips for Senior Citizens to Get a Good Nights Sleep Offered by Longevity Center

New report issued: The Role of Sleep In Healthy Aging

December 7, 2006


Sleep Studies of Older People Find Behavioral Treatment Helps Insomnia; Women Endangered by Restless Legs

October 2, 2006


Sleep Evaluation Should be Routine Medical Care Says Editorial

September 18, 2006


Advice for Senior Citizens on Finding a Good Night's Sleep

Research finds that sleep problems grow with the accumulation of illnesses, not years.

September 18, 2006

 

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