Stay-at-Home Mothers Most Likely To Sleep Poorly
More than half of American women (60 percent) say they only get a good night's sleep a few nights per week or less and 67 percent say they frequently experience a sleep problem. Additionally, 43 percent say that daytime sleepiness interferes with their daily activities, according to a new poll released recently by the National Sleep Foundation. Women's lack of sleep affects virtually every aspect of their time-pressed lives, leaving them late for work, stressed out, too tired for sex and with little time for their friends.
"Women of all ages are burning the candle at both ends and, as a result, they are sleepless and stressed out," said James K. Wyatt, PhD, director of the Sleep Disorders Service and Research Center. "Poor sleep impacts every aspect of a woman's life, as well as her health. This year, we are asking women to take the steps necessary to make healthy sleep a higher priority in their lives and in the lives of their families."
The NSF's 2005 Sleep in America poll found that women are more likely to experience sleep problems than men. The new 2007 poll found that women of all ages are experiencing sleep problems, which change and increase in severity as they move through the different biological stages of their lives.
Interestingly, lifestyle also plays a significant, often negative, role in women’s sleep and daytime alertness. Working mothers (72 percent) and single working women (68 percent) are more likely to experience symptoms of sleep problems like insomnia. But stay-at-home mothers report a high level of overall sleep problems, with 74 percent saying they are experiencing symptoms of insomnia at least a few nights each week, 59 percent saying they frequently wake up feeling unrefreshed and 9 percent reporting that they sleep with a child or infant, which adds to the sleep disturbances they experience each night.
American women are struggling to cope with this lack of sleep. Although women's lifestyles are compromised due to lack of sleep, they keep going. Eighty percent of women say that when they experience sleepiness during the day they just accept it and keep going. However, in order to keep going, 65 percent are likely to use caffeinated beverages, with 37 percent of all women consuming three or more caffeinated beverages per day. And, despite being frequently tired, women are not heading to bed earlier. In the hour prior to going to bed, instead of retiring early, 87 percent say they watch television, 60 percent complete the remainder of their household chores, 37 percent do activities with children, 36 percent do activities with other family, 36 percent are on the Internet and 21 percent do work related to their job at least a few nights a week.
Poor sleep is associated with poor mood. The majority of women reported being bothered by worrying too much about things (80 percent) and/or being stressed out or anxious (79 percent). Sleep problems often co-exist with mood disturbances. In fact, more than one-half of the women polled (55 percent) reported that they felt unhappy, sad or depressed in the past month and one-third (36 percent) reported that they recently felt hopeless about the future. The relationship between sleep and mood is bidirectional. Mood effects can cause poor sleep and poor sleep can put someone at a greater risk for symptoms of depression and anxiety.
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Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois, is home to the world-class Sleep Disorders Services and Research Center, where we take a multidisciplinary approach to evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders. The center includes specialists in pulmonary medicine, neurology and psychology, who are all board-certified in sleep medicine. The center is nationally known for its leadership in the field of both sleep medicine and research.
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