Date Approved


Graduate Degree Type


Degree Name

Occupational Therapy (M.S.)

Degree Program

Occupational Science and Therapy

First Advisor

Jeanine Beasley, EdD, OTRL, CHT, FAOTA Grand Valley State University

Second Advisor

Susan M. Cleghorn, DR.O.T., OTRL, TRS, CAPS, FNAP Grand Valley State University

Third Advisor

Catherine (Katie) Siengsukon, PT, PhD, DBSM, CHWC University of Kansas Medical Center

Academic Year



Introduction: Sleep issues are prevalent among older adults which can affect occupational performance; however, there is a gap in the research in examining lived experiences of this population. This research may provide insight into these areas concerning this population.

Method: This qualitative phenomenological study was conducted via semi-structured interviews which were recorded. No identifiable information was collected during data collection. The inclusion criteria of the study sample were as follows: (a) aged 65 years or older; (b) have sleep issues or self-perceived sleep issues; (c) community-dwelling; (d) English is primary language; (e) live in West and Central Michigan. Exclusion criteria included those who have cognitive impairments (< 24 on the Mini-Mental State Exam).

Results: Participants of this study (N= 12; 4 male, 8 female) were older adults, ages 67 to 88 (M= 74; SD). Mini-Mental State Exam scores of participants ranged from 25 to 30 (M=27.83). Five main themes were constructed from the data using thematic analysis: health, routine, sleep experience, environment, and relationships.

Conclusions: Older adults in this study perceived that sleep issues affected their occupational performance in areas related to health, routine, sleep experience, environment, and relationships. Additional research in this area is needed to build a better understanding of how to address the occupational performance of sleep with this population. Future research should include a more diverse, broader sample. This could include measuring sleep and sleep quality with objective measures relating to the themes of our study.