What is the prevalence of sleep dysfunction in women in the US?

Updated: Jan 31, 2019
  • Author: Gila Hertz, PhD, ABSM; Chief Editor: Selim R Benbadis, MD  more...
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The difficulty most frequently reported by women is insomnia. Insomnia rates during puberty have been described in girls, but not in boys. Women are at 41% greater risk for developing insomnia as compared with men, and this risk increases with age. By age 65 years, the insomnia risk is approximately 73% greater for women.

The prevalence of pathologic SDB has been estimated at 5.2% for women aged 40-64. Over 30% of elderly persons demonstrate at least mild sleep-related breathing abnormalities, as defined by an apnea/hypopnea index of 5 or greater. Postmenopausal women are 2.6 times more likely than premenopausal women to have an apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) of greater than 5.

The incidence and prevalence of SDB during pregnancy is unknown. Generally, sleep studies have found no evidence of significant SDB during pregnancy, possibly reflecting increased circulating levels of progesterone. [19, 20]

The prevalence of PLMD increases significantly with age. Studies have estimated that as many as 45% of the independently living population older than 65 years show the minimal criteria for a diagnosis of PLMD.

The prevalence of RLS has been reported at 10% for those aged 30-79 years. Higher rates of RLS have been reported in women as compared with men and Europeans as compared with Asians. Reported rates among Caucasians and African Americans are similar. Smoking, diabetes mellitus, pregnancy, increasing age, and greater BMI significantly increase the incidence of RLS. Iron deficiency anemia has also been associated with RLS. [21]

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