University Of Tasmania

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Sleep and agitation in nursing home residents with and without dementia

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-18, 13:23 authored by Brown, DT, Juanita BreenJuanita Breen, Benjamin SchuezBenjamin Schuez

Background: The prevalence of dementia in Australian nursing homes is high. A large proportion of residents express themselves through agitated behaviors, with substantial interpersonal and day-to-day variance. One factor that may increase agitation is poor sleep. The current study aimed to determine if sleep influences symptoms of agitation in nursing home residents, and whether this effect differed by dementia status. As benzodiazepines are used widely as hypnotic medication, their impact was also considered.

Methods: Actigraph devices worn on residents’ non-dominant wrists for three days were used to obtain objective measures of sleep. Symptoms of agitation were assessed using staff responses to two standardized questionnaires – the Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory (CMAI) and the Neuropsychiatric Inventory – nursing home version (NPI-NH). Presence of dementia and benzodiazepine use were obtained from resident medical charts.

Results: Forty-nine residents (mean age: 85.57 years) from four nursing homes in Tasmania were included in the study. Results indicated that residents were in bed for an average of 11.04 h and slept for 10.14 h per day. Significant relationships between sleep and verbal as well as non-aggressive agitation were found. No relationships between sleep and aggressive agitation were detected. A significant moderation effect of dementia was found, in which residents without dementia expressed verbal agitation when obtaining less sleep, but not residents with dementia. Benzodiazepine use did not result in significantly more sleep.

Conclusions: These results suggest that sleep could play an important role in explaining agitation, but more research is needed to explore the relationship between sleep and benzodiazepines in nursing home residents.


Publication title

International Psychogeriatrics










School of Psychological Sciences


Springer Publishing Co

Place of publication

United States

Rights statement

Copyright 2015 International Psychogeriatric Association

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Behaviour and health

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