International Psychogeriatrics

Research Article

Sleep disturbances in spousal caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer's disease

Joy Creesea1, Michel Bédarda1a2a3 c1, Kevin Brazila4 and Lori Chambersa1

a1 Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

a2 Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

a3 St. Joseph's Care Group, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

a4 McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada


Background: Although sleep problems are commonly reported among dementia caregivers, the nature and frequency of caregiver sleep disruptions, and their relationship to health status, has received little empirical attention to date.

Methods: The current study investigated the sleep situations of a sample of 60 spousal caregivers currently residing with a Alzheimer disease care recipient, including the frequency of nocturnal disruptions by the care recipient, and the reasons for these disruptions. In addition, exploratory correlations were computed between caregiver sleep variables and health outcomes.

Results: Some 63% of spousal caregivers reported sleep disruptions due to the nocturnal behavior of the recipients of their care. Poorer caregiver sleep quality was associated with higher frequency of nocturnal disruptions by the care recipient, the care recipient needing to use the bathroom, and wandering, higher caregiver depressive symptoms, and higher levels of caregiver role burden. The frequency of nocturnal disruptions was associated with poorer mental health status and a greater number of depressive symptoms.

Conclusions: Results suggest that nocturnal disruptions by the care recipient may have adverse health consequences for spousal caregivers, and that further study of the determinants of caregiver sleep quality and health outcomes are warranted.

(Received August 22 2006)

(Online publication November 23 2006)

(Revised February 05 2007)

(Accepted February 08 2007)

(Online publication April 30 2007)


c1 Correspondence should be addressed to: Dr. Michel Bédard, Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Lakehead University, Room MS-2004, 955 Oliver Road, Thunder Bay, Ontario, P7B 5E1, Canada. Fax: +1 807-766-7155. Email: