Insomnia Affects Women Slightly More Than Men, According To Briefing

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Anyone, of any age or sex, can suffer from sleep problems -- but according to a congressional briefing held last week, insomnia affects women more than men.

The briefing, hosted by the Society for Women's Health Research, detailed how women are 1.4 times more likely to report insomnia than men, and that, in general, sleep problems plague women more than men.

Pregnancy seems to be linked with certain sleep problems, explained Dr. Helene A. Emsellem, M.D., director of The Center for Sleep & Wake Disorders, at the panel. That's because pregnancy hormonal changes can lead to changes in sleepiness (either feeling more or less sleepy), as well as an increased risk of restless legs syndrome.

Emsellem also said at the briefing that 35 to 40 percent of menopausal women have sleep problems, according to a statement.

Sleep disorders increase the risk for a number of health problems, "including stroke, cardiovascular disease, mortality, hypertension, and obesity," Michael J. Twery, Ph.D., director of the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research, said at the briefing, according to a statement.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, about 40 million women and men have some sort of sleep disorder -- with insomnia being the most common. A 2002 NSF poll showed that 63 percent of women report insomnia several nights a week, compared with 54 percent of men.

And a study published earlier this year in the journal The Lancet shows that as many as 10 percent of Americans have full-fledged insomnia, which can increase depression, diabetes and high blood pressure risks.

"Insomnia has traditionally been trivialized," paper co-author Charles Morin, Ph.D, a sleep researcher and professor at the Universite Laval in Quebec City, earlier told HuffPost. "Now that we know a little bit more about its long-term consequences, it's getting a bit more attention."

The NSF recommends that people with insomnia exercise, have regular bedtimes and wake times and avoid caffeine and alcohol to try to alleviate the sleep problem.

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