Impact of Retirement on Sleep Problems among Older Workers and Their Partners

Background and Objectives: Sleep problems are a public health burden and have adverse health consequences in older adults. Despite sleep being a shared biological process between couples, to date, there have not been any studies that have assessed the association between retirement and sleep in older couples. The objective of this study was to examine the impact of retirement on diagnosed sleep problems in older Dutch couples.
Research Design and Methods: This study used data from 2 waves of the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute Pension Panel Study for older Dutch adults living with a partner (n = 3,726). Logistic regression models examined the strength of association between retirement and sleep problems, while accounting for the moderating role of relationship characteristics.
Results: Retirement was associated with decreased odds of sleep problems at Wave 2 (odds ratio [OR] = 0.60, 95% confidence interval [95% CI] = 0.46–0.78). Lower relationship quality was associated with increased odds of sleep problems in the fully adjusted model (OR = 1.81, 95% CI = 1.32–2.49). Having a partner with sleep problems was associated with an increased risk of sleep problems as well (OR = 1.51, 95% CI = 1.07–2.13). There was evidence of effect modification by relationship quality (OR = 1.87, 95% CI = 1.05–3.31).
Discussion and Implications: Retirement and sleep do not occur in a social vacuum and have implications beyond the individual level. More research is therefore needed to understand the impact of sleep and its health consequences on older coupled workers. Such research may provide valuable insights for the management and treatment of sleep problems and may have implications for the public health of aging communities.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.

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