Original Research

Sociodemographic and health correlates of sleep problems and duration in older adults in South Africa

K Peltzer
South African Journal of Psychiatry | Vol 18, No 4 | a369 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajpsychiatry.v18i4.369 | © 2012 K Peltzer | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 June 2012 | Published: 01 December 2012

About the author(s)

K Peltzer, HIV/AIDS/SIT and TB (HAST), Human Sciences Research Council, Pretoria, and Department of Psychology, University of Limpopo, Turfloop, South Africa

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Objective. To investigate sleeping problems, sleep duration and associated factors in a national probability sample of older South Africans who participated in the Study of Global Ageing and Adult Health (SAGE) in 2008.

Methods. In 2008 I conducted a national population-based cross-sectional study with a sample of 3 840 South African individuals aged ≥50 years. A questionnaire was used to survey sociodemographic characteristics and health variables, and anthropometric and blood pressure measurements were recorded.

Results. Of the participants, 9.1% reported having a sleeping problem at the time of the study. The average number of self-reported hours of sleep was 8.6 (SD ±2.1), with 11.6%, 45.1%, 20.0%, and 23.5% reporting ≤6, 7 - 8, 9, and ≥10 h, respectively. In multivariable analysis, depression, cognitive impairment, lack of social cohesion, and moderate or severe activity limitations were associated with having a current sleeping problem. In terms of sociodemographic and health variables, a short sleep duration was associated with: white, Indian/Asian or coloured ethnicity; daily tobacco use; and moderate and severe activity limitations. In participants aged 60 - 79 years, lower wealth, hypertension, risky drinking and lower health-related quality of life were associated with a long sleeping duration.

Conclusion. This study robustly characterised the prevalence of sleeping problems and specific associated risk factors in a large sample in South Africa. This can help to direct future healthcare efforts.


Sleeping problem; sleep duration; associated factors; older adults; South Africa; WHO SAGE


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