Sleep Patterns in Relation to Aging, Culture, and Social Environment in Chinese Elderly
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Sleep problems are among the most common concerns of elderly people. Although up to 50 % of elderly people in the US complain about sleep problems, the prevalence rate of sleep complaints is lower in Taiwan. Could the lower prevalence of sleep complaints in Chinese elderly in Taiwan be explained, in part, on the influences of culture and social environment? Undoubtedly, variations in sleep practices and patterns exist, but the literature of cross-cultural variations in sleep is limited. The purpose of this study was to describe self-reported sleep patterns and related correlates among Chinese elderly in Taiwan. A mixed-method design was used, and naturalistic inquiry served as the philosophical framework. Twenty-three Chinese men and 27 Chinese women were studied in Taiwan. Self-perceptions about aging and demographic characteristics were associated with variations of sleep patterns. In the interviews, most participants reported sleeping fewer hours and had `shallow' sleep compared to what they experienced in their youth. The CPSQI derived sleep efficiency for the entire sample was > 85% and mean sleep duration was 6.7 (1.4) hours. Women reported worse sleep quality (p = .02) and sleep efficiency (p = .03), compared to men: 56% of them reported negative aging experiences. Living with offspring on a different floor, but in the same building, was reported as a favorable living arrangement that benefited sleep quality. Almost a third of the participants reported that worry and unhappiness about their children's unfilial behaviors disturbed their sleep. The vast majority of the participants did not report a sleep disruption due to their commitments to carrying out familial roles and responsibilities or effects of social activities on their sleep. Watching television was the most common pre-sleep evening activity that was perceived as promoting sleep. In conclusion, this study is the first to integrate both qualitative and quantitative data to understand the influence of self-perception about aging, culture, and social environments on Chinese elderly sleep patterns. Living arrangements, family relationships, types and intensity of social activities had minimal effects on sleep. Aging, culture, and social environment may impact self-perception about sleep rather than actual sleep patterns per se.
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