"Sleep problems -a time perspective" : "A cross-sectional and longitudinal approach"

University essay from Stockholms universitet/Sociologiska institutionen

Abstract:

Sleep problems are one of the most common health complaints in the population. Furthermore, people often judge good sleep as crucial for everyday well-being and it has been shown that lack of sleep has negative health effects. However, sleep has not been a subject of much sociological study.

In this study sleep problems are analysed in different ways. First, a cross-sectional analysis is done in order to find out whether sleep problems in the population have increased from 1968 to 2000. Secondly, a longitudinal analysis is done to see how sleep problems pattern from middle-age to old-age. Last, it is analysed whether there are any differences in the sleep patterns from middle-age to old-age for manual workers and non-manuals.

This study shows that there has been an increase in sleep problems from 1968 to 2000 in the population. However the increase has only affected younger age groups (between the age 19-55), the elderly population is unaffected. The increase is found among both men and women. Longitudinal analyses of a cohort (born 1915-1925) followed from middle-age to old-age (for 34 years) showed that one out of four experienced an onset of sleep problems during the study. This is in line with earlier research stating that insomnia to a large part is age-related. Furthermore, it was found that manual workers had a larger increase of sleep problems across the 34 years than non-manuals, perhaps suggesting an accumulation effect.

All analyses were separated for gender and women constantly reported more sleep problems than men. This is not surprising since this relation have been found across almost all cultures and times. Nevertheless, in this study no increase of the gender gap was found with advancing age, a relation found in most other studies. However more research is needed to understand the reason behind the gendered nature of sleep problems.

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