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04-06-2018 | Uitgave 10/2018

Quality of Life Research 10/2018

Weak social networks and restless sleep interrelate through depressed mood among elderly

Quality of Life Research > Uitgave 10/2018
Grand H.-L. Cheng, Rahul Malhotra, Angelique Chan, Truls Østbye, June C. Lo



Sleep disturbance is common in late life. While social interaction is a basic human concern, few studies have explored the linkage between interpersonal relationships and sleep disturbance. The present study examines the reciprocal associations between weak social networks outside the household and sleep disturbance in elderly, as well as the underlying mechanisms.


We utilized data from a nationally representative longitudinal survey of community-dwelling elderly in Singapore (n = 1417; ≥ 60 years). Participants were assessed three times over 6 years (2009, 2011, 2015). Measures included strength of social networks outside the household, restless sleep (sleep disturbance), and the mediating variables of depressed mood, chronic diseases, and cognitive impairment. A cross-lagged mediation analysis was conducted.


Bootstrapping results showed that weaker social networks were related to more restless sleep via more depressed mood. Also, restless sleep was negatively associated with social networks through depressed mood. The other mediators examined were not significant.


Weak social networks and restless sleep reciprocally influence each other through depressed mood. Recognition of this interplay can inform efforts in improving elderly’s sleep quality, social networks, and psychological well-being.

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