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Multidimensional Sleep Health and Physical Functioning in Older Adults

September 10, 2021

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh conducted a study that examined the association between multidimensional sleep health and physical functioning in older adults. Based on observations in previous studies, the researchers hypothesized that better multidimensional sleep health would be associated with three performance-based measures of physical functioning: faster gait speed, stronger lower extremity strength, and stronger grip strength.

A secondary analysis of publicly available data from the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) 2 and MIDUS Refresher studies was conducted to determine multidimensional sleep health among 158 adults aged 65 years or older. 

Participants completed a medical history interview, self-administered questionnaires, and a physical examination over the course of a 24-hour stay at a General Clinical Research Center. They were assessed on gait speed via a 50-foot timed walk, lower extremity strength via chair stand test, and grip strength via hand-held dynamometers. 

Participants were then sent home to complete a 7-day wrist actigraphy and daily sleep diary entries. Multidimensional sleep health assessment categories for the wrist actigraphy included regularity of sleep timing, sleep timing, sleep efficiency, and sleep duration. Average sleep quality and daytime alertness scores were derived from the daily sleep diaries. Participants completed a morning entry in which they reported on the previous night’s sleep, and an evening entry in which they reported on the day’s activities.

Other covariates such as age, sex, race, body mass index (BMI), depressive symptoms, and comorbid symptoms and conditions were included in statistical models based on prior literature that linked these variables to physical functioning. 

Multiple linear regression was used to examine the associations between multidimensional sleep health and physical functioning measures. In adjusted regression analyses, results showed that multidimensional sleep health was significantly positively associated with a .03 meter per second faster gait speed but not lower extremity strength or grip strength. 

Ultimately, results suggest multidimensional sleep health may contribute to physical functioning in older adults. It is recommended that future studies aim to determine whether multidimensional sleep health is modifiable and if improvements in sleep health can enhance gait speed and promote successful aging in older adults.

Read the full study here.


Tighe CA, Brindle RC, Stahl ST, Wallace ML, Bramoweth AD, Forman DE, Buysse DJ. Multidimensional Sleep Health and Physical Functioning in Older Adults. Gerontol Geriatr Med. 2021; (20).