Does social isolation influence sleep quality in older adults?

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  • Social isolation is associated with poor sleep quality in older adults.
  • This is independent of the subjective feeling of loneliness and can be improved with social intervention.

Why this matters

  • Nearly 50% of adults aged 55 years and older experience some form of sleep problem.
  • Previous studies have not investigated the simultaneous associations of social isolation and loneliness with sleep quality in older adults.

Study design

  • Longitudinal analysis of 639 participants with poor sleep quality from 1989 to 1996.
  • Association of social isolation and/or loneliness with sleep quality at follow-up was evaluated.
  • Sleep quality was assessed using Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI).
  • Funding: None.

Key results

  • Mean age of the study population was 66.14 years, and the mean PSQI score at follow-up was 4.7.
  • Sleep quality was found to be inversely associated with both social isolation (P<.001) and loneliness (P<.011).
  • After adjustments, participants with higher level of social isolation had poor sleep quality (incident rate ratio, 1.13; P<.01), whereas loneliness and sleep quality showed no significant association (P=.383).
  • There was no significant interaction between isolation and loneliness (P=.45).


  • Sleep quality was self-reported.