November 2, 2009
Science Daily/American Academy of Sleep Medicine
A new study in the journal Sleep shows that retirement is followed by a sharp decrease in the prevalence of sleep disturbances. Findings suggest that this general improvement in sleep is likely to result from the removal of work-related demands and stress rather than from actual health benefits of retirement.
Results show that the odds of having disturbed sleep in the seven years after retirement were 26 percent lower (adjusted odds ratio of 0.74) than in the seven years before retiring. Sleep disturbance prevalence rates among 14,714 participants fell from 24.2 percent in the last year before retirement to 17.8 percent in the first year after retiring.
The greatest reduction in sleep disturbances was reported by participants with depression or mental fatigue prior to retirement. The postretirement improvement in sleep also was more pronounced in men, management-level workers, employees who reported high psychological job demands, and people who occasionally or consistently worked night shifts.
Results also show that there is a slowly increasing prevalence of sleep disturbances with increasing age, which can be observed both before and after retirement. From the first to the seventh year after retirement, the prevalence of sleep disturbances increased from 17.8 percent to 19.7 percent but remained significantly lower than at any time point prior to retirement.
"We believe these findings are largely applicable in situations where financial incentives not to retire are relatively weak," said Vahtera. "In countries and positions where there is no proper pension level to guarantee financial security beyond working age, however, retirement may be followed by severe stress disturbing sleep even more than before retirement."