Racial/Ethnic Differences in Insomnia Trajectories among U.S. Older Adults

Christopher N. Kaufmann, Ramin Mojtabai, Rebecca S. Hock, Roland J. Thorpe, Sarah L. Canham, Lian Yu Chen, Alexandra M.V. Wennberg, Lenis P. Chen-Edinboro, Adam P. Spira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Objectives Insomnia is reported to be more prevalent in minority racial/ethnic groups. Little is known, however, about racial/ethnic differences in changes in insomnia severity over time, particularly among older adults. We examined racial/ethnic differences in trajectories of insomnia severity among middle-aged and older adults. Design Data were drawn from five waves of the Health and Retirement Study (2002-2010), a nationally representative longitudinal biennial survey of adults aged > 50 years. Setting Population-based. Participants 22,252 participants from non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, Hispanic, and other racial/ethnic groups. Measurements Participants reported the severity of four insomnia symptoms; summed scores ranged from 4 (no insomnia) to 12 (severe insomnia). We assessed change in insomnia across the five waves as a function of race/ethnicity. Results Across all participants, insomnia severity scores increased 0.19 points (95% CI: 0.14-0.24; t = 7.52; design df = 56; p < 0.001) over time after adjustment for sex, race/ethnicity, education, and baseline age. After adjusting for the number of accumulated health conditions and body mass index, this trend decreased substantially and even changed direction (B = -0.24; 95% CI: -0.29 to -0.19; t = -9.22; design df = 56; p < 0.001). The increasing trajectory was significantly more pronounced in Hispanics compared with non-Hispanic whites, even after adjustment for number of accumulated health conditions, body mass index, and number of depressive symptoms. Conclusions Although insomnia severity increases with age - largely due to the accumulation of health conditions - this trend appears more pronounced among Hispanic older adults than in non-Hispanic whites. Further research is needed to determine the reasons for a different insomnia trajectory among Hispanics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)575-584
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016


  • Aging
  • Chronic health conditions
  • Disparities
  • Insomnia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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