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Poll: Most Women Have Sleep Problems

Survey in U.S. Shows Age and Lifestyle Affect Type and Frequency of Sleep Problems

Interpretations of the Survey

Lifestyle and other factors definitely have an impact on sleep, not surprisingly, says Kryger. Family and work demands weren't the only factors affecting sleep quality.

Mood affects sleep at any age, he adds. Women with mood disorders such as depression were more likely to have sleep problems.

Women who didn't sleep well, Kryger says, also tended to report they were too tired to exercise, eat properly, or have sex with their partner.

Advice for the Sleep-Deprived

While some people are naturally better sleepers than others, Kryger says anyone can improve. First step: "Make sleep a priority."

Good sleepers obey "sleep hygiene" rules, he says. They include keeping a regular sleep schedule of going to bed and waking about the same time daily.

Other recommendations from the National Sleep Foundation: Have a relaxing bedtime routine, finish exercising at least three hours before bedtime, and avoid caffeine and alcohol a few hours before bed.

Though older women surveyed had more sleep problems than younger ones, advancing age doesn't have to mean an increase in sleep problems, Kryger says. "People used to believe older people are lousy sleepers." But older people in relatively good health can be good sleepers, he says, especially if they practice good sleep hygiene.

Women must also stop thinking of a constant lack of sleep as a badge of honor, says Joyce Walsleben, PhD, RN, a sleep medicine specialist at New York University Medical Center and associate professor of medicine at NYU School of Medicine. She was not involved in the poll but is familiar with its findings.

"Women have to understand sleep is vital," she says. "I don't think we've gotten that message out there."

Not only can women perform better at jobs and family duties when they're well rested, Walsleben says, but they may be more likely to maintain a healthy weight. "Lack of sleep is the source of a lot of obesity," says Walsleben, citing several recent research studies that link lack of sleep to weight gain over the years.

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