Symptoms of sleeping disorders burden women worse than men, study finds

QUEENSLAND, Australia — A lack of sleep can ruin anyone’s day, but a recent study found that women are more profoundly affected by sleeping disorders or a night of poor rest than men.

Researchers at the SleepGP clinic in Australia performed a retrospective clinical audit of 744 adult patients who sought medical attention for sleeping disorders and other sleep-related healthcare in seven private general practices across the country. They surveyed patients from April 2013 until January 2015, and had them complete detailed questionnaires about their sleeping habits.

Woman sleeping on balcony ledge
Women are strikingly more burdened by sleeping disorders or the ill effects of a night of poor sleep than men are, a recent study finds. (Photo by Hernan Sanchez on Unsplash)

The team found that women are more likely than men to develop severe depression symptoms, have more trouble sleeping at night, and exhibit more extensive daytime sleepiness. Women also showed more trouble concentrating on things when they’re sleep-deprived than male participants.

“We found that females were more likely to have sleeping disorders associated with daytime sleepiness,” explains co-author Dr. John Malouf, founder of the SleepGP clinic, in an American Academy of Sleep Medicine press release. “Females were also likely to feel more affected by the burden of their symptoms.”

Meanwhile, male snoring was more likely to cause partners to get their shuteye in different rooms than female snoring.

“What was surprising about the results was that while men and women tended to present at a similar age, their symptoms and the effect on their lives differed markedly,” explains lead author Allegra Boccabella, a research associate at SleepGP clinic. “We didn’t expect there to be differences across the board in terms of the different aspects of people’s lives.”

Understanding the differences in how sleeping disorders and disrupted sleeping patterns affects men and women will help healthcare professionals tailor treatments to their specific patients, the researchers hope.

The study’s findings were published last year in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.