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Sleep quality, sleep duration and sexual health among older people: findings from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing

Lee, David M and Tetley, Josie (2019) Sleep quality, sleep duration and sexual health among older people: findings from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics. ISSN 0167-4943

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Abstract

Context: How sleep quality and sexual health are associated among community-dwelling individuals remains largely unknown. Objective: We examined the association of sleep disturbance and sleep duration with a range of measures assessing sexual activities, functioning and concerns in a representative sample of older people. Methods: Participants were community-dwelling adults aged 50-90+ years from wave 6 (2012/2013) of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) who reported any sexual activity in the last year. Sleep disturbance, sleep duration and sexual health were measured by self-report at wave 6. Retrospective reports of restless sleep (waves 1-6 [2002-2013]) were also examined. The association between sleep measures and sexual health was assessed using logistic regressions stratified by gender and adjusted for demographic, health and lifestyle factors with results expressed as odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI). Results: Among both men and women disturbed sleep was associated with reported declines in sexual activity and function over the last year, and increased concern about their sexual desire, frequency of sexual activity and sexual functioning. Robust associations between high sleep disturbance and vaginal pain (OR=1.67, 95% CI=1.21, 2.31) and vaginal dryness (OR=1.69, 95% CI=1.24, 2.30) were also observed among women. Retrospective reports of restless sleep showed a dose-response relationship with reported declines in sexual health over the last year, and increased concerns about sexual expression and functioning. Conclusions: Self-reported sleep disturbance and retrospective restless sleep were mainly associated with subjective assessments of recent declines in sexual activity and functioning, and higher levels of sexual concerns.

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