Original Research

Perceived control and sleep in hospitalized older adults: A sound hypothesis?



To examine the associations between perceived control over sleep, noise levels, sleep duration, and noise complaints in a cohort of hospitalized adults.


Prospective cohort study.


General medicine ward in an academic medical center.


One hundred eighteen hospitalized patients age 50 years and over (mean age, 65 years; 57% female; 67% African American).


Sleep duration was measured via wrist actigraphy, and noise levels in patient rooms were measured via sound monitors. Validated questionnaires were used to assess sleep characteristics at baseline and sleep quality for each night. Perceived control over sleep was measured at baseline using the Sleep Self‐Efficacy (SSE) scale (range 9–45).


The mean SSE score was 32.1 (standard deviation, 9.4), and the median score was 34 (interquartile range, 24–41). Average sleep duration for patients in the hospital was 333 minutes (5.5 hours). Forty‐two percent of patients complained of noise disrupting their sleep. Linear regression clustered by subject showed that above median SSE was associated with longer sleep duration (+55 minutes 95% confidence interval [CI]: 14, 97; P = 0.010). This association remained significant after controlling for objective noise levels and patient demographics (+50 minutes 95% CI: 11, 90; P = 0.014). In logistic regression controlling for noise level and patient demographics, those patients with high SSE were 51% less likely to complain of noise disruptions (odds ratio: 0.49; 95% CI: 0.25, 0.96; P = 0.039).


Higher perceived control over sleep is associated with longer sleep duration, better sleep quality, and fewer reports of noise disruptions. In addition to noise control, interventions to boost perceived control may improve in‐hospital sleep. Journal of Hospital Medicine 2013;8:184–190. © 2013 Society of Hospital Medicine