Lifestyle practices and nocturnal sleep in midlife women with and without insomnia

Rita E Cheek, Joan L Shaver, Martha J Lentz
Biological Research for Nursing 2004, 6 (1): 46-58
Relationships between common lifestyle practices important to sleep hygiene (e.g., smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, ingesting caffeine, exercising, bed times, getting-up times) and nocturnal sleep have not been documented for women with insomnia in their home environments. This community-based sample of 121 women, ages 40 to 55 years, included 92 women who had experienced insomnia for at least 3 months and 29 women with good-quality sleep. Women recorded lifestyle practices and sleep perceptions (time to fall asleep, awakenings during sleep, feeling rested after sleeping, and overall sleep quality) in diaries while undergoing 6 nights of somnographic sleep monitoring at home. Compared to women with good-quality sleep, women with insomnia reported greater night-to-night variation in perceived sleep variables, poorer overall sleep quality (M = 2.8, SD = 0.7 vs. M = 1.9, SD = 0.5, P < 0.05), and longer times to fall asleep (M = 25 min, SD = 14.2 vs. M= 12.9 min, SD = 5.8, P < 0.05). Correlations between mean individual lifestyle practice scores and mean perceived or somnographic sleep variables were low, ranging from 0 to 0.20. An aggregated sleep hygiene practice score was not associated with either perceived or somnographic sleep variables. Regression analysis using dummy variables showed that combinations of alcohol, caffeine, exercise, smoking, and history of physical disease explained 9% to 19% of variance in perceived or somnographic sleep variables. Lifestyle practices, and combinations thereof, do warrant consideration when assessing or treating insomnia, but these data fail to support a dominant relationship between lifestyle practices and either perceived or somnographic sleep variables.

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