The effects of insomnia on older adults’ quality of life and daily functioning: A mixed-methods study

Amy S. Berkley, Patricia A. Carter, Linda H. Yoder, Gayle Acton, Carole K. Holahan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Insomnia in older adults has been linked to increased incidence of falls, depression and anxiety, cognitive impairment, institutionalization, and mortality, but traditional sleep assessment instruments, designed for the general adult population, fail to capture many of the experiences and causes that are unique to older adults. This mixed methods study elicited open narratives from 18 older adults (6 men,12 women, mean age 84, SD= 7.62, range 67–96) who reported chronic insomnia or disrupted sleep to learn how poor sleep affected their quality of life and daily functioning. The interviews were supplemented with three widely used self-report sleep instruments to provide baseline sleep quality and hygiene scores. Content analysis of the participants’ narratives revealed the overriding theme of Insomnia Is Exhausting, which exemplifies the physical and emotional strain this chronic condition creates, and four categories: A Bad Night, Self-Management, Stoicism and Consequences. The narratives revealed severe, negative effects on quality of life, including reduced functional capacity and increased stress, anxiety, and social isolation. The results of this study can be used as a foundation for interventions to enhance sleep quality for this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)832-838
Number of pages7
JournalGeriatric Nursing
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Disordered sleep
  • Insomnia
  • Older adults
  • Quality of life
  • Sleep
  • Sleep quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gerontology


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