Changes in Sleep Predict Changes in Affect in Older Caregivers of Individuals with Alzheimer’s Dementia: A Multilevel Model Approach

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Abstract

Objectives:

Understanding predictors of older dementia caregivers’ mood could provide insight into potential treatments which may delay institutionalization of their care recipient. Research with older noncaregivers has shown that nights characterized by better subjective sleep were associated with days characterized by higher positive and lower negative affect, and vice versa. Examining daily relationships is important, as sleep and affect are state-like behaviors that fluctuate within individuals, across time. This study was a preliminary examination of whether a sample with a greater proportion of older dementia caregivers exhibits similar daily sleep/affect associations.

Methods:

Sleep diaries, actigraphy, and affect data were collected concurrently for 7 days in 55 community-dwelling, dementia caregivers (M = 62.80 years, SD = 12.21; 77.8% female). Sleep and affect were examined within- (day-to-day level) and between-persons (mean level).

Results:

Findings for older noncaregivers were replicated for negative affect only. Specifically, nights characterized by better subjective sleep were characterized by lower negative affect, and vice versa.

Discussion:

Examining older caregivers’ daily sleep/affect association is important, because caregiving-related awakenings are unavoidable, often unpredictable, and can impact mood. Future research is needed to examine whether regularization in awakenings and/or negative affect represent important secondary, or even target, treatment outcomes for this vulnerable population.

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