|Why Have Sleep Problems in Later-Midlife Grown Following the Great Recession? A Comparative Cohort Analysis
|Year of Publication
|The Journals of Gerontology: Series B
|Aging, Economics, middle-aged adult, Sleep, sleep disorders, Stress
This research compares three cohorts of individuals in their fifth decade of life and examines whether sleep problems are greater in cohorts following the Great Recession. We argue that these differences will occur because post-recession cohorts are exposed to more economic burdens that harm sleep. We also suggest that post-recession exposure to economic burdens will be amplified among women, leading to greater cross-cohort differences in sleep problems.Data were derived from the Health and Retirement Study, focusing on cohort surveys starting in 2004, 2010, and 2016 (N=12,129). Structural equation models compared cohorts in latent levels of sleep problems, and also examined whether economic burdens mediated cohort differences. Interactions tested whether cohort differences varied between men and women.The 2010 and 2016 cohorts had higher mean levels of sleep problems than the 2004 cohort. Greater post-recession exposure to economic burdens largely explained inter-cohort change in sleep problems, with this pattern stronger among women.Americans are approaching their senior years increasingly burdened by economic stressors that incur sleep problems. Practitioners and aging researchers should be prepared to address deleterious health consequences created by heightened sleep impairments.