Spousal Educational Attainment and Sleep Duration among American Older Adults

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3 Scopus citations


Objectives: Sleep has consistently been shown to have a dyadic nature among married older adults; however, less is known about the influence of a spouses' social characteristics on one's own sleep. Focusing on older adults, we examined the association between one's spouses' educational attainment and one's own sleep duration. Method: We used the 2004-2018 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) to analyze heterosexual married adults aged 50-84 (N = 89,180). Respondents reported typical sleep duration in a 24-hr period, which was categorized as short (≤6 hr), normal (7-8 hr), or long (≥9 hr). We fit multinomial logistic regression models predicting these categories of sleep duration and accounted for demographic, household socioeconomic characteristics, and health/health behaviors. Using interaction terms, we tested if the association varied by the respondent's gender and educational attainment. Results: Older adults married to spouses with college or more education had significantly lower relative risk of short sleep than those whose spouses had some college, high school, or less than high school education, net of the covariates including their own education. The benefit of higher levels of spousal education was significantly more protective against short sleep for women and more highly educated older adults. Discussion: Older adults married to spouses with high levels of education reported more favorable sleep durations, but this benefit was significantly stronger for women and the highly educated which has important implications for their aging. These findings suggest that social inequality may condition the dyadic nature of sleep for heterosexual married older adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1015-1026
Number of pages12
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2021


  • Gender
  • Marriage
  • Multinomial logistic models
  • National Health Interview Survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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