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Sleep, Stress and Gender

The Better Sleep Council is an organization that is dedicated to providing much-needed education about sleep and the role it plays in health and improving the quality of life for consumers around the world. It is a division of the International Sleep Products Association, and it is made up of both sleep experts and bedding companies from throughout the industry. As part of their efforts, they recently conducted a survey looking into what role stress plays in the sleep lives of the American consumer, and how much time is being lost each night to worry. Their findings are both of interest and concern. Among the statistics that were revealed were the following:

  • Roughly two thirds of Americans indicated that they lose sleep as a result of worry
  • Roughly one third of Americans have indicated that sleep loss caused by worry is something that they experience at least once per week (up three percent from when the study was conducted in 2003)
  • Sixteen percent of those surveyed say that their stress-related sleeplessness has reached the point of insomnia

The problem is clearly universal, though the study also indicated that stress plays a bigger role in sleep problems in women than in men. Over a quarter of the women in the study indicated that stress kept them up at least once a week, while the same was true for only sixteen percent of the men polled. It also is clear that the problem strikes older Americans more profoundly and more frequently, as almost twenty percent of those between the ages of 45 and 64 said that worry keeps them awake a few nights each week. This kind of sleep loss accumulates quickly and can have a significant impact on a person’s health, leading sleep experts to suggest a number of stress-relieving steps in order to alleviate the problem.

On a positive note, the survey also revealed that the message about the importance of sleep seems to be getting across, particularly to American women. A portion of the survey targeted women’s wellness and how women feel that sleep relates to their overall wellbeing. The poll revealed that over 25 percent of American women rank sleep as the most important aspect of their overall health and how they feel, with 16 percent saying that if they wanted to take steps to improve their health they would begin with getting a good night’s sleep. Roughly one third of women who live in the suburbs and who have children say that sleep is a nightly priority for them, and half of all women who participated in the survey who have children say that getting some sleep is their top selection for how to make themselves feel better – this represents a significant number compared to women who do not have children. Finally nearly half of all women polled said that a good night’s sleep makes them feel most refreshed, and a quarter said that if they wanted to make a health improvement, purchasing a mattress would be something that they would consider.

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