Personality and insomnia symptoms in older adults: The Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging

Darlynn M. Rojo-Wissar, Amal A. Wanigatunga, Eleanor M. Simonsick, Antonio Terracciano, Mark N. Wu, Vadim Zipunnikov, Jennifer A. Schrack, Sharmin Hossain, Luigi Ferrucci, Paul T. Costa, Adam P. Spira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Study Objective: To examine associations of personality dimensions and facets with insomnia symptoms in a community sample of older adults. Methods: We studied 1049 participants aged 60-97 years in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging. Personality was assessed by the Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R), and insomnia symptom severity was measured by the Women's Health Initiative Insomnia Rating Scale (WHIIRS). Results: Adjusting for demographic characteristics, higher neuroticism, lower conscientiousness, and lower extraversion were associated with greater insomnia symptom severity. These associations remained significant for neuroticism and conscientiousness when further adjusting for depressive symptoms and comorbidities. Higher scores on neuroticism facets Anxiety, Angry Hostility, and Depression, and lower scores on conscientiousness facets Competence, Order, and Achievement Striving and on agreeableness facet Altruism were associated with greater insomnia symptom severity in fully adjusted models. Results were similar among cognitively normal older adults (N = 966), except higher scores on extraversion facets Warmth and Assertiveness associated with lower insomnia symptom severity, and agreeableness facet Altruism was unassociated. Conclusion: Among older adults, insomnia symptoms appear partially related to personality, with persons higher in neuroticism experiencing greater insomnia symptom severity, and those higher in conscientiousness experiencing lower insomnia symptom severity. Exploring facets of the Big-Five dimensions may provide additional insight regarding the etiology and resolution of sleep disturbance, and some of these associations may differ based on cognitive status. Future studies should investigate the hypothesis that sleep impairment mediates part of the association between specific personality traits and health-related outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberzsab082
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2021


  • conscientiousness
  • insomnia
  • neuroticism
  • personality traits
  • sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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