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Free Content Daytime sleepiness, exercise, and physical function in older adults

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The purpose of this study was to describe the association between sleepiness, exercise, and physical function in older adults, testing the hypothesis that sleepiness predicts decreased exercise and impaired physical function in this population. We performed a secondary analysis of data from the National Sleep Foundation's Sleep in America Poll, comparing frequency of exercise and ability to perform functional tasks between sleepy and non-sleepy subjects. Trained interviewers administered a scripted telephone survey. Participants (n = 1506) were community-dwelling older Americans (55–84 years) randomly chosen from geographically representative households with listed telephone numbers. Sleepiness ‘so severe that it interferes with daytime activity’ was dichotomized as ‘daily/frequently’ or ‘never/rare’. Exercise frequency was scored 1–4 (‘less than once a week’ to ‘more than five times a week’). Responses to five questions (walk 0.5 mile, climb stairs, push/pull heavy object, stoop/crouch/or kneel, write, handle small objects), rated 1–5 (‘no difficulty’ to ‘unable to do’), were summed; a mean score of ≥2.5 was considered impaired physical function. Daytime sleepiness predicted low exercise frequency while controlling for age and body mass index (BMI) (OR = 1.40, 95% CI 1.031–1.897, P = 0.031). Frequent daytime sleepiness predicted impaired physical function (OR = 2.76, 95%CI = 0.237–0.553, P = 0.001) after controlling for age, BMI, income and number of co-morbid conditions. The conclusion was that daytime sleepiness in older adults is associated with physical functional impairments and decreased exercise frequency. The findings suggest that sleepiness in older adults is not benign but has implications for continued physical decline and warrants attention.
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Keywords: disorders of excessive somnolence; older adults; physical activity; physical function; sleep

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Nursing, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 2: School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 3: School of Nursing, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA

Publication date: March 1, 2007

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