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Some Factors In Avoiding Nursing Homes: Why Sleep Comes First

An Australian study of over 125,000 senior citizens found that poor sleep quality was one of the most significant risk factors for being admitted to a nursing home. This research appeared in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, which is a peer-reviewed journal. The article suggests that people who slept 7-9 hours per night were less likely to need institutionalized care by 23% compared to those who slept under five hours or over eleven hours.

Only smoking was identified as more harmful than bad sleep habits among the medical researchers’ list of risk factors. Smokers were twice as likely to be admitted into nursing homes than non-smokers.

The survey group comprised persons aged above sixty years. The initial surveys occurred between 2006 and 2009 while the follow-up period ranged from eleven to fourteen years with an average period of eleven years. According to this new study, approximately 18% of the subjects had been placed in nursing homes during this time.

Those participants with the worst lifestyle at baseline had a 43% increase in their odds of admission into NHs relative to those with healthy lifestyles. However, those who had better lifestyle characteristics reduced their risk by as much as thirty percent.

A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and fish but a limited quantity of red and processed meat constituted a healthy lifestyle characteristic used in this analysis. Exercise was another important factor contributing to good health according to this study. It found that engaging in moderate-vigorous activities for at least five days per week coupled with sitting for less than seven hours per day was essential for attaining good health.

While diet and exercise are well-known contributors to overall health, the study highlights the importance of sleep quality. It was concluded that not only can good sleep help reduce dementia risks but other debilitating diseases as well. Good habits such as healthy eating and walking may also help.

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