A new study on sleep patterns in American women found that most of them had insufficient sleep which in turn reflected on their mental and physical health, personal lives, professional work and driving safety.
The 2007 Sleep survey sponsored by the National Sleep Foundation, studied about 1,003 adult women in ages 18 t0 65 spread all over America and found that 60 percent of them get less than one or two nights of good sleep each week, and 40 percent have disturbed sleep every night.
'We found that the majority of American women are continually sleep deprived, either because of young children, biological changes like pregnancy and menopause, stress or pets,' said Kathryn Lee, PhD, a professor in the Department of Family Health Care Nursing in the UCSF School of Nursing, who led this year's study. 'The impact on their families, personal and professional lives, and society is enormous.'
The chief cause of sleep denial was women's efforts to carry out all their responsibilities at work, childcare, family and spousal relationships. Biological changes at various stages like pregnancy, motherhood and menopause too affect women's sleep according to Lee.
Working mothers are the worst affected as they have to manage work as well as family responsibilities that result in staying up late and being continually sleep deprived, reports the survey. They had to be satisfied with only six hours sleep per night. Most of the working mothers reported suffering from insomnia or lack of sleep and taking sleeping pills.
This is not to say that mothers should not be in the workforce,' Lee said. 'In fact, they are often the most productive, organized and efficient members of the staff. But it does point out the need for employers and our society as a whole to support them better.'
Lee said women needed more flexible work hours, onsite child care, shuttle services and good joints which offer take-home meals for families. Greater support from spouses could help to a great extent.
The results also showed that
• Obese Women and those in poor health have sleep problems.
• Sleep problems affect their relationship with spouse or partner.
• 65 percent drink caffeinated beverages and 21 percent smoke to drive away sleepiness during the day
• Lack of sleep resulted in driving drowsy
• Women are late to work or sometimes even have to miss work due to sleep problems.
Few tips for falling asleep easily
• Maintain fixed sleep times.
• Exercise should be done at least three hours before bedtime.
• Caffeine and alcohol must be avoided a few hours before sleep.