Insomnia predicts nursing home admission, study finds

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Seniors who have insomnia are more likely to be admitted to a nursing home than those who experience quality sleep, according to a recently published study.

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health utilized the Health and Retirement Study, which is a biennial survey of more than 26,000 Americans who are 50 and older.

Respondents who had symptoms of insomnia in 2006 were more likely than other survey participants to be hospitalized, admitted to a nursing home or need home healthcare by 2008, the researchers found.

“A relationship was even found between insomnia symptoms and hospitalization as well as use of any of the three health services after accounting for common medical conditions and elevated depressive symptoms,” said lead author Christopher Kaufmann, MHS, a doctoral student with the Bloomberg School's Department of Mental Health.

The study results are especially significant because insomnia affects about 40% of people in this age group, the researchers said. If there's a “causal relationship” between insomnia and the use of hospital, nursing home and home health services, more widespread and effective insomnia treatments could reduce the use of these services by up to 14% of the population.

The study appears in the Journals of Gerontology: Medical Sciences.