Women ask for more sleep time

In a survey of sleeping habits done this week by a UK national newspaper, Britain’s women would like to have at least 15 days more sleep each year than they are currently getting. They feel worse off than men it would seem who by contrast reckon that they are only 10 days short.

Sleeping Girl at night

In a general overview of all adults, the summary states that ideally they would like to sleep for seven and a half hours a night, but they are only getting just over six and a half hours – a big difference.

Experts believe that insufficient sleep has become a worldwide epidemic, with chronic sleep deprivation linked to serious medical problems such as obesity, diabetes, cancer and immune deficiency. Obesity and weight gain of course can be a key cause of snoring that will accelerate these serious illnesses through oxygen deprivation to the brain, and lead on to obstructive sleep apnoea. Previous US research even found lack of sleep could double the signs of skin ageing, including fine lines in the skin.

This latest survey of 2 000 UK adults showed men claim to get less sleep than women – but also need less of it.

  • It revealed men were getting six hours three minutes sleep on average, compared with six hours 40 minutes they believe they should have – a sleep deficit of 40 minutes a night, adding up to ten days three hours over a year.
  • Women claim to get six hours 21 minutes each night – but want seven hours 23 minutes. The sleep deficit of one hour two minutes a night equates to a staggering 15 days 17 hours annually.

Research suggests seven and a half hours of sleep is the optimum level for good health and earlier this year, scientists at Surrey University found just one week of poor sleep can disrupt hundreds of genes linked to stress, immunity and inflammation.

Other interesting key facts emerged:

  • More men than women are woken up by their partners – 11.5 per cent versus nine per cent – and twice as many women are woken by children – 11 per cent versus 5.5 per cent.
  • Snoring by a partner kept one in ten awake while a further seven per cent suffered because of their own snoring,

In the USA, The National Institutes of Health, in partnership with the National Geographic Channel and The Public Good Projects, will draw the nation’s attention to the health consequences of sleep deprivation and what keeps Americans up at night. The documentary, Sleepless in America, premieres on the National Geographic Channel on Sunday, November 30th.

“Feeling tired is only one consequence of getting poor quality sleep,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “Research has helped illuminate a wide array of health challenges stemming from chronic sleep problems. Researchers have uncovered links between poor sleep and health issues ranging from obesity to cardiovascular disease to mental health disorders.”

Common belief may hold that it gets harder to sleep the older you get, but sleep problems take a great toll on all ages, including young Americans: 70 per cent of high school adolescents are sleep deprived, increasing their risk of suicide, mood problems and delinquency. Millions of U.S. adults have sleep apnoea, and up to 80 per cent don’t even know it.

The bottom line seems obvious. Focus on keeping your weight down, getting the right amount of quality sleep, and if you snore then make sure you do something about it soon for everyone’s sake, not just your own.

John Redfern