Sleepy Women Have Poorer Health?

According to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2007 Sleep in America poll, just published by Eileen Chasens and colleagues from the University of Pittsburgh in this month’s issue of Behavior and Sleep Medicine, almost 20% of community-dwelling women aged 40 to 60 years reported sleepiness that consistently interfered with daily life.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the sleepy subsample reported more symptoms of insomnia, restless legs syndrome, obstructive sleep apnea, depression and anxiety, as well as more problems with health-promoting behaviors, drowsy driving, job performance, household duties, and personal relationships.

Further analyses revealed that sleepiness along with depressive symptoms, medical comorbidities, obesity, and lower education were associated with poor self-rated health, whereas menopause status (pre-, peri- or post-) was not.

These results point to the high prevalence of daytime sleepiness in midlife women and suggest that addressing the underlying causes of poor sleep and sleep disruption may be an important measure to improve health in this population.

Obviously, what applies to the midlife women in this study may well also apply to women of other age groups as well as men – and of course our kids.

Perhaps we should all use the long weekend to get more sleep.

Edmonton, Alberta

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Chasens ER, Twerski SR, Yang K, & Umlauf MG (2010). Sleepiness and health in midlife women: results of the National Sleep Foundation’s 2007 Sleep in America poll. Behavioral sleep medicine, 8 (3), 157-71 PMID: 20582759