A new study published this week in Nature Human Behaviour revealed that women suffer sleeping problems more frequently than men.
The study compared the sleep quality of over a million adults and children in three countries — United Kingdom, the Netherlands and the US, and found that women experience more insomnia problems than men.
The study, titled ‘Sleep characteristics across the lifespan in 1.1 million people from the Netherlands, United Kingdom and United States’, found that women use more sleep medications than men, while women over 40 sleep fewer hours on average and less efficiently than their male counterparts.
The study suggests that “sex hormones” might be contributing to the development of insomnia in women during their puberty years, and are exacerbated once they reach adulthood with social factors including stress or parenting damaging the potential for getting quality sleep.
After women, smokers, overweight people and people of non-European origin were most likely to experience poor sleep.
“We aimed to obtain reliable reference charts for sleep duration, estimate the prevalence of sleep complaints across the lifespan and identify risk indicators of poor sleep,” the study’s abstract states.
The authors hoped to offer “age- and sex-specific population reference charts for sleep duration” and
“help guide personalised advice on sleep length and preventive practices.”
“Recommendations for appropriate sleep duration and quality should be sex-specific,” the study suggested.
Americans were found to be suffering more insomnia than their counterparts in the UK and the Netherlands — between 1.5 to 2.9 times more likely. Adults spending more than nine hours a night in bed and those over 65 years were also found to have more common problems with insomnia.
The study also looked closely at teenagers and found that more than fifty percent of them reported sleeping less than the eight to 10 hours per night recommended by doctors. They were also the group who were most likely to report sleepiness during the day. Overall, poor sleep quality and issues concerning insomnia were more common than the issue of short sleep durations.
The study also found that just one in four people slept less than their age-specific recommendations. Recent studies by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the last few years have indicated that up to one third of American adults have a sleeping disorder that can impact their lives in critical ways.
The study compiled the responses provided by participants, as well as experiments done on groups of people in sleep labs. “Such research isn’t as robust,” the authors told CNN, “but the size and scope of the research does give doctors insights into daily functioning.”