WASHINGTON, March 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than half of
American women (60%) say they only get a good night's sleep a few nights
per week or less and 67% say they frequently experience a sleep problem.
Additionally, 43% say that daytime sleepiness interferes with their daily
activities, according to a new poll released today by the National Sleep
Foundation (NSF). 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 little time for their friends.
NSF's 2007 Sleep in America poll sought to look at the sleep patterns
of adult women (ages 18-64), as 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%) and single working women (68%) 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% saying they
are experiencing symptoms of insomnia at least a few nights each week, 59%
saying they frequently wake up feeling un-refreshed and 9% report
co-sleeping 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% are likely to use caffeinated beverages, with 37% 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% say they watch television,
60% complete the remainder of their household chores, 37% do activities
with children, 36% do activities with other family, 36% are on the Internet
and 21% 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%) and/or being
stressed out or anxious (79%). Sleep problems often co-exist with mood
disturbances. In fact, more than one-half of the women polled (55%)
reported that they felt unhappy, sad or depressed in the past month and
one-third (36%) reported that they recently felt hopeless about the future.
The relationship between sleep and mood is bi-directional. Mood effects can
cause poor sleep and poor sleep can put someone at a greater risk for
symptoms of depression and anxiety.
"Women of all ages are burning the candle at both ends and as a result
they are sleepless and stressed out," said Richard L. Gelula, NSF's chief
executive officer. "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."
Lack of Sleep Disrupts Quality of Life
The Sleep in America poll also finds that a lack of a good night's
sleep is interfering with a woman's quality of life. Women report that they
often choose to put healthy activities last on their priority list as they
struggle through their daily lives. When pressed for time, one-half of the
women polled responded that sleep (52%) and exercise (48%) are the first
things they sacrifice. Additionally, more than one-third of women say they
also reduce the amount of time they spend with friends and family (39%),
stop eating healthy (37%) and don't participate in sexual activity with
their partner (33%) when they run out of time or are too sleepy in a day.
Interestingly, work is the last thing that women say they sacrifice when
pressed for time; only 20% of women responded that they would opt to put
work on the back burner when they run out of time or are too sleepy.
About two-thirds (68%) of the women polled say they were working during
the past month, with almost one-half (46%) saying that they worked
full-time. Some working women (8%) report that they miss work at least once
a month due to sleepiness or a sleep problem. In addition, two in ten say
they were late to work more than once in the past month due to oversleeping
(20%) or feeling too tired when they woke up (19%). About one-half of women
who are working (53%) say that their work schedule is flexible and women
between the ages of 18 and 24 are significantly more likely than their
older counterparts to work non-traditional hours or overnight shifts.
Despite warnings, women are still driving drowsy. More than one-quarter
(27%) of women polled said they have driven drowsy at least once a month in
the past year; 10% of those who had driven drowsy did so with a child in
the car. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conservatively
estimates that up to 100,000 police-reported crashes annually involve
drowsiness or fatigue as a principal causal factor.
"Women who spend less than 7 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 Kathryn Lee,
Ph.D, a member of the NSF poll task force. "Furthermore, women tend to
compromise the most important aspects of good health -- diet, exercise and
sleep -- when trying to juggle the day's ongoing responsibilities.
Foregoing healthy lifestyle habits in favor of more time during the day is
not the solution. In fact, it can be detrimental to optimum health and
performance." Dr. Lee is a Professor of Family Health Care Nursing and the
James and Marjorie Livingston Chair in the School of Nursing at the
University of California, San Francisco.
Sleep and Health
The NSF Sleep in America poll also found poor health and obesity are
linked to an increased frequency of sleep problems. Women who report being
in fair or poor health are significantly more likely than those who report
being in excellent or very good health to:
-- Experience any symptom of a sleep disorder at least a few nights per
week (66% vs. 30%)
-- Have been told by a doctor that they have a sleep disorder (40% vs.
-- Experience daytime sleepiness at least a few days per week (46% vs.
-- Have missed at least one day of work because of sleepiness or a sleep
problem in the past month (26% vs. 7%)
-- Use any sleep aid at least a few nights per week (54% vs. 19%)
Additionally, women with height and weight that would be categorized as
obese (BMI greater than or equal to 30) are more likely than those with a
BMI classified as overweight or average weight to:
-- Snore at least a few nights each week (46% vs. 33% for overweight and
21% for average weight)
-- Experience daytime sleepiness at least a few days a week (31% vs. 22%
for overweight and 18% for average weight)
-- Use a prescription sleep aid at least a few nights per week (23% vs.
14% for overweight and 11% for average weight)
"Adopting healthy behaviors such as eating nutritious foods, being
physically active, watching your weight, and getting enough sleep are
important steps toward living a healthy life," said Janet Collins, Ph.D.,
Director, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health
Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "As a leader
in public health, CDC applauds NSF's efforts to educate all Americans about
the importance of sleep."
Women, Biology and Sleep
The 2007 NSF Sleep in America poll also asked respondents about the
quality and quantity of sleep. These findings were then analyzed within
different biological stages of their lives.
Menstruating women (women of childbearing age) spend an average of 7
hours, 32 minutes in bed (1) on weeknights, with 67% of these women
reporting experiencing symptoms of insomnia at least a few nights each
week. Of menstruating women:
-- 16% say they have missed work one or more days in the past month due
to a sleep problem.
-- 34% say they experience symptoms of a sleep disorder like snoring,
sleep apnea and/or RLS.
-- One-third of menstruating women (33%) say that their sleep is
disturbed the week of their cycle.
Pregnant women spend the most hours in bed per weeknight (8 hours, 14
minutes on average), however most pregnant women (84%) report symptoms of
insomnia a few nights each week, with 40% also reporting signs of a sleep
disorder such as snoring, sleep apnea and/or restless leg syndrome (RLS).
-- 30% of pregnant women report that they rarely or never get a good
-- Most pregnant women (82%) report getting significantly better sleep
before their pregnancy.
-- One percent of pregnant women report consuming alcohol, beer or wine
within an hour of going to bed at least a few nights each week as a
-- 54% of pregnant women report napping at least twice per week.
Post partum women spend less time in bed on weeknights than pregnant
women (7 hours, 46 minutes on average), but they report the same frequency
of symptoms of insomnia (84%). Of the women in this group, 42% report that
they rarely or never get a good night's sleep - the highest frequency of
all the groups.
-- When asked what awakens them most during the night, 90% of post partum
women say giving care to a child.
-- Nearly one-half (47%) of post partum women say that they have no one
helping them with childcare at night.
-- 20% of post partum women say they have driven drowsy with children in
-- 35% of post partum women report experiencing symptoms of a sleep
disorder such as snoring, sleep apnea and/or RLS.
-- Among post partum women with a child who is 3 months old or younger,
the child is most often sleeping in a crib in the parent's room (48%).
Roughly one-fourth say their child sleeps in his/her own room (27%) or
in the parent's bed (22%).
-- About two in ten (19%) women in this category say they experience post
partum blues or depression.
Perimenopausal women (women during their menopausal transition years)
spend the least amount of time in bed on weeknights of all the groups (7
hours, 12 minutes on average). More than half (59%) of women in this life
stage say they experience symptoms of insomnia at least a few nights each
-- 43% of perimenopausal women report experiencing symptoms of a sleep
disorder such as snoring, sleep apnea and/or RLS.
-- Perimenopausal women cite noise (36%) and co-sleeping pets (20%) as
awakening them most during the night.
-- 20% of women in this category say they have a difficult time sleeping
due to hot flashes or night sweats at least a few nights each week.
Postmenopausal women generally spend more than 7 hours in bed on
weeknights (7 hours, 19 minutes on average), but of all the groups,
postmenopausal women report the highest incidence (50%) of a sleep disorder
such as snoring, sleep apnea and/or RLS.
-- 61% of women in this life stage report experiencing some symptoms of
insomnia at least a few nights each week.
-- 41% say they use a sleep aid at least a few nights per week - the
highest frequency of all the groups.
-- 22% of postmenopausal women say they have a difficult time sleeping
due to hot flashes or night sweats. A similar proportion (22%) report
experiencing restless legs syndrome (RLS) at least a few nights each
week. Symptoms of RLS appear more frequently in these individuals than
in other segments.
-- Postmenopausal women report the highest BMI's with 36% reporting that
they are overweight and 30% that they are obese - a factor that plays
a significant role in sleep disorders.
"Women are often blindsided by life and biology," said Meir Kryger, MD,
director of research and education at the Gaylord Sleep Center and chair of
the 2007 NSF Sleep in America poll task force. "As women go through
different life stages, internal biological factors and external lifestyle
factors have a huge impact on their ability to get a good sleep. Despite
the life phase, it's important for women to choose to make healthy sleep a
Women, Sleep and Lifestyle
The 2007 Sleep in America poll investigated how sleep habits change
throughout a woman's life and how sleep is affected by lifestyle. As such,
the poll looked at the following six segments of women to gauge how women's
sleep patterns change and are affected by lifestyle.
Working, Single Women spend the least amount of time in bed, generally
less than six hours per night and one-half (54%) of the women in this
category say they wake up feeling un-refreshed at least a few days each
week. Despite this, 70% of working, single women say that they just accept
it and keep going when they are sleepy during the day. In addition,
working, single women are also very likely to use caffeinated beverages
when sleepy during the day (47%), consuming an average of 3.1 cups/cans per
day. About one-third say they use the weekends to try to catch up on their
sleep (31%) and these women are likely to spend time with their friends in
the hour before going to bed (27%).
Working, married women with no children or grown children (Empty
Nesters) report getting better sleep than most groups, with 44% saying they
get a good night's sleep every night or almost every night, despite the
fact that they report being in bed less than seven hours per night on
average. Empty Nesters report a low frequency of sleep problems (15%), but
nearly one-half report that they do not have enough time for sleep (46%) or
exercise (47%), and 38% say they don't have sex because they are too sleepy
or run out of time.
Stay-at-Home Moms (SAHMs) report that they rarely get a good night's
sleep, despite the fact that 61% report that they spend 8 or more hours in
bed each night and more than one-half (57%) report napping at least once
per week. Three-quarters (74%) of women in this category say they are
experiencing symptoms of insomnia, with 59% saying they wake up feeling
un-refreshed in the morning and 56% reporting that they wake frequently
during the night. This segment of women is most likely to report sleeping
with an infant or child, which likely accounts for many sleep disturbances
throughout the night. Lack of sleep has a big impact on SAHMs who say they
are unable to do leisure activities (43%) and/or have sex with their
partner (39%) because they are too tired or ran out of time in the day.
SAHMs report that in the hour before going to bed, they are completing
household chores (71%) and/or doing activities with their children (71%).
Many women today choose to work part-time while raising their children.
Part-time Working Moms say they are sleeping well and one-half (50%) report
typically being in bed for more than 8 hours per night. Interestingly,
these women are among the least likely to be told by their doctor that they
have a sleep problem (16%) and this segment of women are less likely to say
they are unable to do things because they run out of time or are too tired.
Like other women, Part-time Working Moms also say they accept it and keep
going when tired during the day (68%), but they frequently use napping (60%
taking at least one nap per week) and caffeinated beverages to cope (40%).
In the hour before going to bed, the majority report watching television
Women who are married, with school-aged children and working full-time
(Briefcases with Backpacks) report being in bed less than 6 hours per night
on weeknights and are less likely to nap. Women in this segment are most
likely to report symptoms of insomnia with more than one-half (56%) saying
they often wake up feeling unrefreshed and one-half (54%) saying they
frequently wake up during the night. 70% of women say they just accept it
and keep going when they are sleepy during the day. These women are the
most likely segment to use caffeinated beverages when sleepy during the day
(56%), consuming an average of 2.7 cups/cans per day. Women in this group
are most likely to drive drowsy (35%) and to feel that they don't have time
for the following: sleep (60%), exercise (60%), spending time with family
and friends (52%), leisure activities (49%) and have sex with their partner
(44%). This segment of women is also most likely to report mood
disturbances, specifically being bothered or troubled by worrying too much
about things (37%).
After going through one or more of these life phases, women begin to
approach retirement age. 50-something women have the highest frequency of
sleep problems, though they report spending more than 8 hours in bed per
night on weeknights (66%) and say they often nap at least once per week
(61%). As a group, women in this segment frequently use sleep aids (41%)
and approximately one-fourth (26%) of these women have been told by their
doctor that they have a sleep problem. When sleepy during the day,
50-something women rarely just accept it and keep going; instead they
choose to do less during the day (20%) and/or nap to catch up on their
Other Poll Highlights:
-- Women who allow children (9%) or pets (14%) to share their bed have
the most disturbed sleep.
-- It's a myth that men snore and women do not. Nearly one-third of women
(31%) responded that they snore at least a few nights per week, likely
disturbing their own sleep and the sleep of their partner.
-- 29% of women report using some type of sleep aid at least a few nights
-- About two in ten women (19%) report experiencing symptoms of restless
leg syndrome (RLS). Women who experience RLS at least a few nights a
week are more likely than those who experience RLS with less frequency
* Experience symptoms of insomnia at least a few nights a week (90%
* Experience daytime sleepiness at least a few days a week (44% vs.
* Consume more caffeine per day (3.71 cups/cans vs. 2.27)
* Use sleep aids at least a few nights a week (47% vs. 25%)
Tips for Healthy Sleep
According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 70
million people in the United States are affected by a sleep problem, with
women suffering from lack of sleep more often than men and with increasing
frequency as they age. If you have difficulty with your sleep for any
reason, here are some tips that may help you get a better night's sleep:
1. Try to have a standard relaxing bedtime routine and keep regular sleep
times. Make sure your bedroom is dark, cool and quiet and that your
pillows, sleep surface and coverings provide you with comfort.
2. Exercise regularly, but finish your workout at least three hours
3. Avoid foods and drinks high in caffeine (coffee, colas, tea and
chocolate) and alcohol a few hours before bedtime. Caffeine and
alcohol disturb sleep. Nicotine may make it difficult to fall asleep
and lead to fragmented sleep; those who smoke should get help to quit.
4. If you have a new infant in the family, arrange for some help from
family or friends in order to get a few more hours of sleep each week
until your infant is sleeping through the night. When you return to
work, additional assistance during this transition may be essential
for keeping you safe at work and on your commute.
NSF released the poll findings as part of its 10th annual National
Sleep Awareness Week(R) campaign, held March 5-11th. For more sleep tips
for women, as well as the Summary of Findings for the 2007 Sleep in America
poll, visit NSF's Web site at http://www.sleepfoundation.org.
The 2007 Sleep in America poll was conducted for the National Sleep
Foundation by WB&A Market Research. Telephone interviews were conducted
between September 12 and October 28, 2006, with a targeted random sample of
1,003 women ages 18-64. A random sample of telephone numbers was purchased
from SDR Consulting, Inc. and quotas were established by region, with
pregnant (n=150) and post partum (n=151) women being oversampled. The
response rate for this study was 20.4% (number of completed interviews
divided by the number of completed interviews plus the number of contacted
households who refused participation or did not complete appointments,
factored by the overall incidence of 69%). The data was weighted to reflect
equal proportions of respondents by age based on the U.S. Census. The
poll's margin of error is plus or minus 3.1% at the 95% confidence level.
The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) is an independent nonprofit
organization dedicated to improving public health and safety by achieving
greater understanding of sleep and sleep disorders. NSF furthers its
mission through sleep-related education, research, and advocacy
initiatives. NSF's membership includes researchers and clinicians focused
on sleep medicine as well as other professionals in the
health/medical/science fields, individuals, and more than 900 sleep clinics
throughout North America that join the Foundation's Community Sleep
Awareness Partners program.
NSF's financial support comes from a variety of diverse sources,
including memberships, sales of educational materials, advertising,
investment income, individual donations, subscriptions, and educational
grants from foundations, federal agencies, and corporations including
pharmaceutical and non- pharmaceutical companies. Corporate grants are
accepted on an unrestricted basis only. NSF alone determines the ideas and
content published or promoted in its educational programs. NSF relies on
positions of government agencies, the published consensus of sleep and
medical professionals and peer-reviewed, publicized evidence for its public
health recommendations. A list of 2007 contributors can be found on NSF's
NSF does not solicit nor accept funding for its annual Sleep in America
polls; NSF polls are developed by an independent task force of sleep
scientists who provide guidance and expertise in developing the poll
questionnaire and analysis of the data. NSF can be found online at
NSF -- CDC Partnership
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is one of the 13
major operating components of the Department of Health and Human Services
(HHS), which is the principal agency in the United States government for
protecting the health and safety of all Americans and for providing
essential human services, especially for those people who are least able to
help themselves. In January 2007, the CDC partnered with NSF in support of
NSAW and the NSF Great American Sleep ChallengeTM.
(1) Attention should be given to the fact that the poll respondents
were asked to provide their usual bedtime and usual waketime which were
used in calculating their "number of hours in bed." This tends to be
reported more accurately than estimates of "number of hours slept."
SOURCE National Sleep Foundation