Sleep disorders for 9 out of 10 women over 45: health and couple’s happiness at risk
Sleeping well is very important for 90% of Italians between 45 and 65 years old, but only for 1 in 10 is easy: 87% of women and 67% of men say they sleep “badly”; stress and trauma (88%), lifestyles and diet (79%), physical fatigue (76%) prevent good sleep. Poor sleep causes psychological (98 percent), physical (83 percent) and relational (41 percent) consequences, according to Onda survey.
“Difficulty falling asleep, restless sleep, nocturnal awakenings, and early waking are clear signs of sleep disorders, important indicators that impact physical and psychological health and couple stability,” introduces Francesca Merzagora, President Onda, National Observatory on Women’s and Gender Health. “For more than 90% of Italians between 45 and 65 years old, sleeping well is very important and the basis of well-being, but only for 1 in 10 is it easy.”.
Wave on sleep disorders
Taking the most recent snapshot on sleep disorders after childbearing age is Onda, through a survey, conducted by Elma Research on a sample of 150 men and 150 women aged 45 to 65, presented at the opening of the Observatory’s 2nd National Congress “Women and the couple after childbearing age – Changing health: prevention, lifestyles, frailty” being held in Milan and which places special emphasis on the evolution of health, prevention and lifestyles in this age group.
Data reveal that 4 out of 5 respondents suffer or have suffered from sleep disorders, and half of the sample considers at least 8 hours of rest per night to be necessary and healthy even though, in fact, 83% admit to sleeping a maximum of 7 hours, with 16% sleeping a maximum of 5. Among the different causes that prevent good sleep, those most considered are mental stress and trauma (88 percent), inadequate lifestyle and diet (79 percent) as well as physical fatigue (76 percent), but also illness (56 percent) and menopause and aging (42 percent).
Sleep disorders are believed to lead to many consequences
Psychic for 98% of respondents, primarily nervousness and irritability, but also bad mood, lack of lucidity and difficulty concentrating and learning; physical, especially fatigue and lack of energy for 83% and in 41% of cases also relational consequences with a tendency to isolate oneself, problems in communication and dialogue in the couple and decreased sexual desire.
“The survey also shows that the female part of the sample values the importance of sleep more and more than men believe it is the basis of a person’s well-being,” says Luigi Ferini Strambi, Chief UO Neurology-Sleep Center, IRCCS San Raffaele Turro and University Vita-Salute San Raffaele, Milan.
Women fear the onset of these disorders more
According to the survey, in general women fear the onset of these disorders more and in fact suffer from them more than men: 87% of female respondents complain of having this problem compared to 67% of the male sample. “What women say is actually in line with scientific data that insomnia is 1.5 times more common in women than in men, and this value tends to increase after age 65,” Ferini Strambi continues.
“This finding is partly explained by a more pronounced reduction in the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle, in women than in men as they age. The reduction of progesterone, which has a sedative effect and reduces intra-sleep micro-awakenings, in menopause may also explain the increased prevalence of insomnia in this age group. Moreover, depression is known to be one of the most important triggers of chronic insomnia; therefore, it is not surprising that insomnia tends to become chronic more frequently in women, who are affected by depression twice as much as men.”.
Stefano Genovese, Head of the Diabetology, Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases Unit
“In addition to having important consequences on the psychological level and lack of energy,” comments Stefano Genovese, Head of Unit of Diabetology, Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases, Centro Cardiologico Monzino IRCCS, Milan, “the alteration of the biological clock of our body by sleep deprivation, even partial, but repeated over time or the impairment of sleep quality, increases the likelihood of certain diseases and this is very evident for metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and obesity.
Several studies have shown that those who sleep less than 6 to 7 hours per night have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and experiencing excessive weight gain; in fact, sleep influences the way our bodies process glucose, and poor sleep is associated with alterations in certain hormones that regulate appetite and influence caloric intake.”.
Topics related to psycho-social aspects
“In addition to the theme of sleep,” explains Merzagora, “the 2nd edition of the Congress is dedicated to the couple: not only will some clinical problems of men, which reverberate on the couple’s relationship, be addressed, but also issues related to psycho-social aspects. The most impactful issues after childbearing age related to sexual, cardiometabolic, mental and oncological health will be addressed, with the theme of frailty declined according to the higher incidence during this period of life. Again this year we will open to young people in a repeated attempt to bring the medical class of the future ever closer to gender-specific medicine.”.
“The present is marked by personalized precision and gender-specific medicine,” concludes Claudio Mencacci, Onda Technical-Scientific Committee Chairman. “This is the basic approach in the coming years for many diseases: from metabolic to cardiological, from autoimmune to cancer, from depression to musculoskeletal. A trend that will change our society, our relationships and emotional ties with an improvement in the quality of life and empowerment of patients also facilitated by the development of new technologies, as is emerging from the reports of the Congress”.