One Quarter of Middle-Aged Women Unhappy with Sleep Quality

Sleep disturbances linked to poor health related quality of life in middle aged women

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Previous studies have found that middle-aged women have more sleep issues than middle-aged men. However, it's not clear why this is.

A recent study found that approximately one in four middle-aged mothers were not satisfied with their quality of sleep.

The researchers determined that frequently disturbed sleep was associated with having a low health-related quality of life.

"Tell a doctor if you are having trouble falling or staying asleep."

The lead author of this study was Päivi Polo Kantola, MD, from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology of the Turku University Hospital and the Sleep Research Unit — both at the University of Turku in Turku, Finland.

The study used participant data from a previous study call the Finnish Family Competence Study.

The current study included 850 first-time mothers who visited a public maternity healthcare clinic in Finland.

Follow-up was conducted after 15 years. The researchers collected information on mental and physical health, medical history, smoking status and alcohol consumption, body measurements and sleep quality.

The average age of the participants was 42 years old, 32 percent of the participants had some type of chronic illness and 28 percent were taking medication regularly.

While 75 percent of the participants reported that their quality of sleep was typically 'good' or 'quite good', the other 25 percent reported having an "average," "poor" or "quite poor" sleep quality.

The researchers found that the most commonly reported sleep issue was waking up in the middle of the night after 60 percent of the participants awoke in the middle of the night at least once a week.

A total of 42 percent of the participants experienced morning sleepiness at least once a week and 32 percent were sleepy in the daytime at least once per week.

Other sleep problems included difficulty falling asleep, waking up too early in the morning, falling asleep at work, falling asleep during leisure time, taking naps during the daytime and the use of sleeping pills.

The findings revealed that the participants with the lowest health-related quality of life had the most sleep disturbances and the worst sleep quality.

The participants with chronic illness or who regularly took medication reported sleep problems most frequently and had a low health-related quality of life.

Dr. Kantola and team discovered that one out of every four participants was not satisfied with their sleep, and that sleep disturbances were often related to a combination of lifestyle factors rather than one specific thing.

The researchers noted a few limitations of their study. First, health and medical data were self-reported. Second, sleep-quality was self-reported, so the researchers did not have any objective measurements. Third, the participant data was taken from another study and was not compared to a control group; therefore no cause-and-effect relationship could be determined. Fourth, the participants were all mothers of 15-year-olds, so these findings may not be applicable to the general population.

This study was published online ahead-of-print on December 9, 2013 and will be published in print in the March 2014 edition of Maturitas.

The Turku University Hospital and the Turku University Foundation provided funding.

Review Date: 
February 26, 2014
Last Updated:
February 27, 2014