Do women get less sleep than men?
If you can’t identify with your husband’s sleep apnea, and he can’t relate to your insomnia, there may be a reason: a recent study suggests that women and men are affected differently by sleep disorders.
The study, conducted in Australia, found that women were more likely to have sleep disorders that result in daytime sleepiness, such as nighttime insomnia, and are more affected than men by their symptoms, which can include depression, forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating due to tiredness.
“What was surprising about the results was that while men and women tended to present at a similar age, their symptoms and the effect on their lives differed markedly,” said Allegra Boccabella, the study’s lead author, in a press release. “We didn’t expect there to be differences across the board in terms of the different aspects of people’s lives.”
Dr. David Koh, a pulmonologist and sleep specialist with the Advocate Heart Institute at BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill., wasn’t surprised by the findings.
“It is not surprising that women are more impacted by sleep disturbances than men, because women in general do not sleep as well as men,” he says.
Dr. Koh credits these factors as causing poor sleep in women:
- Half of menstruating women report bloating that disturbs sleep
- 79% of women report sleep disturbance during pregnancy
- 36% of postmenopausal women suffer hot flashes during sleep
- Because women continue to be the primary caregivers to both small children and aging parents, their sleep is often disrupted
- 40% of women over 40 years of age have insomnia from the stress in their life
The study concludes that sleep-related health problems cause a multitude of symptoms and therefore need complex management. The researchers say that sleep-related health care should be a high priority to improve quality of life for patients with sleep-related problems, particularly women.
“If we can identify the ways their lives are affected, we can help produce better outcomes for the patient,” Boccabella said.
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