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Women's Health

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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

New Moms Losing Sleep continued...

Women also commonly reported that they didn't wake up feeling refreshed or that they woke up too early and couldn't go back to sleep.

As women age, they tend to have more sleep problems, the survey shows. While 33% of women aged 18 to 24 had a sleep problem a few nights a week, 48% of those 55 to 64 did.

Overall, women reported being in bed (though not necessarily sleeping the entire time) eight hours and 24 minutes on nonworkdays and seven hours and 28 minutes on workdays.

Despite the sleep problems, 80% of women said if they get sleepy during the day they accept it and forge on. Many said they rely on coffee or other caffeinated beverages to stay alert.

One bright spot, at least for women with partners: Those who said they sleep with their significant other -- and not pets or kids -- were less likely than those who slept with a pet or a child to have insomnia.

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.

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