25 May 2005

Better Educated Women Sleep Better

The better educated a woman is, the better she sleeps at night. But the same is not true for men.

So says a recent study (which you can download here in full) done in Taiwan involving more than 39,000 Taiwanese citizens aged 15 years and older.

Insomnia is 2 times more common in women than men. Attempts to explain the reason for the gender difference have revolved around three aspects: biological, prior psychiatric illness, and sociological.

The Taiwan study explored the sociological aspect more, and questions included marital status, employment or occupation, educational attainment, and household income, as well as the number of family members under the age of 15.

The study found that overall, insomnia was more prevalent among:
  • older people

  • those who were divorced or separated

  • those with lower educational attaintment

  • those who were in poor health

  • those with children living at home

  • those with low income
The reasons above are probably reasons you already know before, but this study has documented them factually.

Old people commonly wake up in the early hours after midnight. If you are divorced or separated, it is expected you are lonely and depressed. The same reasons apply to thsoe with poor health and low income where more time is spent on brooding and thinking of their problems. Those with children at home is almost self-explanatory, because you tend to spend most of your time watching over them.

The study found the reasons true for both genders but insomnia rates still significantly higher in women than men. Greatly affected are the single moms who were unemployed. Again, that is self-explanatory and expected. If you worry too much, you tend to lose sleep.

And the most interestuing finding is that women with better education sleep better. Men with better education don't.

We can, of course, speculate on possible reasons like career unsatisfaction on the part of men, but it will all be speculation.

The Taiwanese authors in conclusion said that "sex discrepancy in insomnia narrowed slightly after taking social role factors into consideration but was not explained by socioeconomic status." They suggested that the "persistent sex gap in insomnia warrants further investigation."

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