The association between benzodiazepine use and sleep quality in residential aged care facilities: a cross-sectional study

Lynna Chen, J. Simon Bell, Renuka Visvanathan, Sarah N. Hilmer, Tina Emery, Leonie Robson, Jessica M. Hughes, Edwin C.K. Tan

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21 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Benzodiazepines are commonly prescribed in residential aged care facilities (RACFs) for their sedative and anxiolytic effects. The objective of this study was to investigate the association between benzodiazepine use and sleep quality in residents of RACFs. Methods: A cross-sectional study involving 383 participants was conducted in six Australian RACFs. Night-time sleep quality, day-time drowsiness and day-time napping behavior were assessed using a validated questionnaire. Logistic regression was used to compute adjusted odds ratios (AORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for the association between benzodiazepine use and sleep quality. Covariates included pain, dementia severity, depression, insomnia and other sedative use. Results: Of the 383 residents (mean age 87.5 years, 77.5% female), 96(25.1%) used a benzodiazepine on a regular basis. Residents who used long-acting benzodiazepines on a regular basis had higher night-time sleep quality than non-users (AOR = 4.00, 95%CI 1.06 - 15.15). Residents who used short-acting benzodiazepines on a PRN only basis had longer daytime napping times than non-users (AOR = 1.77, 95%CI 1.01 - 3.08). No benzodiazepine category was associated with day-time drowsiness. Conclusions: The association between benzodiazepine use and sleep quality is dependent on the half-life and prescribing pattern of the benzodiazepine. Short-acting PRN benzodiazepines were associated with lower night time sleep quality and longer day-time napping compared to long-acting regular benzodiazepines. Longitudinal studies are needed to determine whether these findings reflect channeling of short-acting agents to residents at higher risk of sleep disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Article number196
Number of pages9
JournalBMC Geriatrics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 26 Nov 2016


  • Benzodiazepines
  • Homes for the aged
  • Hypnotics and sedatives
  • Nursing homes
  • Sleep
  • Sleep disorders
  • Sleep quality

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