Beliefs about the 'shape' and continuity of healthy sleep as a function of age

Dorothy Bruck, Chelsea Dolan, Leon Lack

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    5 Citations (Scopus)


    Objective: Treating insomnia includes challenging unrealistic beliefs that may contribute to anxieties and wakefulness. This study explored beliefs about the shape and continuity of healthy adult sleep at different adult ages. Methods: Younger (. n=. 113, M=. 21.4 (2.4)) and older adults (. n=. 110, M=. 72.3 (7.7)) depicted their concept of the normal sleep of both a healthy 18 and 65 year olds. Plots were drawn to show sleep depth and awakenings across the night. Results: Seventy percent conceptualized healthy sleep as an unbroken U shape and 18 year olds were depicted with deeper sleep than 65 year olds. About 95% of younger adults and three quarters of older adults showed both healthy 18 and 65 year olds sleep without awakenings. Conclusion: Unrealistic sleep beliefs are widespread, with healthy sleep usually being mistakenly conceptualized as unbroken, even in older adults. Education that awakenings are part of normal sleep may have preventative health implications and reduce sleep anxieties.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)39-44
    Number of pages6
    JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


    • Aging
    • Cognitions
    • Insomnia
    • Sleep anxiety
    • Sleep beliefs


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