Why Women Have Trouble Sleeping
Less than half of American women get a good night’s sleep on a regular basis with stay-at-home moms least likely to enjoy adequate pillow time. According to a 2007 National Sleep Foundation (NSF) poll quizzing women about their sleep habits, 67% of American women experience frequent trouble sleeping and 43% report that daytime tiredness interferes with their normal daily activities. More likely to experience sleep problems than men, women said lack of sleep permeated every aspect of their lives, blaming inadequate sleep for everything from high stress levels to being late for work to being too tired for sex.
Women of all ages reported experiencing sleep problems which the poll found changed and increased in severity as women moved through the various biological stages of life. Lifestyle also played a role in sleep experience and daytime alertness. Stay-at-home moms, 74% of whom reported experiencing insomnia at least a few nights each week, exhibited the highest level of overall sleep problems. Fifty-nine percent of stay-at-home moms said they regularly woke up feeling unrefreshed. Working mothers (72%) and single working women (68%) also experienced periodic insomnia that affected job performance.
The majority of women polled seemed to accept chronic tiredness as a normal state for women. Eighty percent of women said they just kept going if they became sleepy during the day, 65% using caffeinated beverages to boost their alertness. Despite chronic tiredness, the NSF poll found that women didn’t head for bed sooner when they could. In the hour before they went to bed, instead of turning in early, 87% watched television, 60% finished household chores, 37% interacted with their children or family, 36% were on the Internet, and 21% were engaged in job-related activities.
“Women of all ages are burning the candle at both ends and as a result they are sleepless and stressed out,” said Richard Gelula, NSF chief executive officer in a NSF press release announcing poll results. “Poor sleep impacts every aspect of a woman’s life, as well as her health.”
“Women who spend less than seven hours in bed at night are more likely to doze off during the day, report symptoms of depression, drive drowsy and use coping mechanisms just to make it through their day,” said NSF task force member Dr. Kathryn Lee, professor of family health care nursing at the University of California, San Francisco.
Friday: How women’s sleep patterns change with age