International Journal of Public Health

, Volume 60, Issue 6, pp 643–650 | Cite as

How well does Europe sleep? A cross-national study of sleep problems in European older adults

  • Vera van de StraatEmail author
  • Piet Bracke
Original Article



In this study, we aim to provide insight into the socio-demographic, family-related and socio-economic determinants of sleep problems in European older adults.


Data from the Survey of Health Ageing and Retirement in Europe (2011/2012) were used to perform multilevel logistic regression analyses on whether one has been bothered by sleep problems for at least 6 months. The final sample consisted of 54,722 respondents aged 50 and older from 16 countries.


Prevalence rates varied from 16.6 % in Denmark and Italy to 31.2 % in Poland. The odds ratio of 2.014 confirmed a higher likelihood of sleep problems in women. People aged 60–69 (OR 0.898) reported less sleep problems than people between 50 and 59 years old. Finally, marriage compared to divorce and widowhood and having a higher socio-economic status were associated with less sleep problems.


This study confirms sleep problems to be quite prevalent in the European older population. Increased awareness of the importance of sleep for health is needed, as well as further cross-national comparative research to explain the existing cross-country variation in sleep problems.


Sleep problems Older adults Cross-national SHARE 



This paper uses data from SHARE wave 4 release 1.1.1, as of March 28, 2013 (doi: 10.6103/SHARE.w4.111) and SHARE wave 1 and 2 release 2.6.0, as of November 29, 2013 (doi: 10.6103/SHARE.w1.260 and  10.6103/SHARE.w2.260). The SHARE data collection has been primarily funded by the European Commission through the 5th Framework Programme (project QLK6-CT-2001-00360 in the thematic programme Quality of Life), through the 6th Framework Programme (projects SHARE-I3, RII-CT-2006-062193, COMPARE, CIT5- CT-2005-028857, and SHARELIFE, CIT4-CT-2006-028812) and through the 7th Framework Programme (SHARE-PREP, No. 211909, SHARE-LEAP, No. 227822 and SHARE M4, No. 261982). Additional funding from the U.S. National Institute on Aging (U01 AG09740-13S2, P01 AG005842, P01 AG08291, P30 AG12815, R21 AG025169, Y1-AG-4553-01, IAG BSR06-11 and OGHA 04-064) and the German Ministry of Education and Research as well as from various national sources is gratefully acknowledged (see for a full list of funding institutions).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Swiss School of Public Health 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.HeDeRa (Health and Demographic Research), Department of SociologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium

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