women sleep worse, image of woman awake in bed

Women sleep worse than men – it’s a fact.

Fact: Women sleep worse

In the Psychology course I teach at Bellarmine University, I always begin my course with the objective, “Confirm your hunches.” So after reading this study, I confirmed a long withstanding hunch of my own: women sleep worse than men. Today, I’d like to share their findings and other intriguing tidbits with you, our wicked cool customers and friends.

As a part of National Better Sleep Month, celebrated in May, the Better Sleep Council launched a study called “The State of America’s Sleep”. The first of its kind, this study sought to assess and track America’s sleep quality over time and its results unveiled the best and worst sleepers.

Common Sleeper Themes Revealed

The first, that validated my hunch, is that women are reportedly the worst sleepers. In fact, women represent 57% of poor sleepers in America; finding that nearly six in 10 women were sleep disturbed, whereas men fell at four in 10. Women reported especially lower scores when adding children and schooling into the equation.

The second was less surprising because it resonates with me personally: high stress = low quality sleep. And no surprise here, the top causes of stress were listed as financial, work, or personal relationships. More specifically, financial stress was categorized: having concerns about financial future and living paycheck to paycheck. Often, women sleep worse from things like that because they balance household budgets and things of that nature.

sleep study infographic

When it comes to your work environment, they found that people “under pressure at work” made up 44% of the poorest sleepers in the country. The 27% they considered to be excellent sleepers were more likely to “feel valued” in their work environment. What an excellent reminder for leadership to continuously provide feedback to your team and/or employees. If employees are sleeping better, productivity and overall happiness improves. Seems like a win-win for all parties involved!

Here are a few of the other themes that the study reported:

  • Average income for poor sleepers is $65,000 and for excellent sleepers is $72,000.
  • Retired Americans, specifically males, sleep better than all age ranges combined.
  • Millennials make up 34% of poor sleepers.
  • Pet owners represent 70% of poor sleepers.

Income level and pet ownership came as no surprise to me as factors that might relate to quality of sleep. But I did find it interesting, however, that age range has a lot to do with how people reported their sleep – even more than the idea women sleep worse – it’s impacted by age as well. In fact, the “best sleeper in America” is described as a 70 year old, male retiree. I assumed that retired sleepers might actually stress more about financials since they have passed their prime earning years, but as it turns out the younger counterparts, the millennials are more concerned about saving for their retirement.

One final note about the retired sleeper, I loved seeing that his tips for good sleep hygiene and healthy bedtime habits matched what Dr. Elizabeth Nicholson reported in her most recent interview about Medication and Sleep Hygiene. Together they say that practicing good sleep hygiene means that you limit bedtime social media and emailing, avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime, avoid bedtime snacking, and maintain a daily routine of light exercise. While women sleep worse, we should try to change that.

I hope you found this sleep study as riveting as I did – especially since I am a woman who knows she sleeps worse than her husband and whose business is creating better sleep environments for our customers. Whether it confirmed a hunch for you, taught you something new about your own sleep behavior, or was just some light bathroom reading, we’re sure glad that you joined us in our quest to find wicked-good sleep.

Until next time friends, sleep wicked — and don’t fret that women sleep worse!


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