Sleepiness and Snoring Tougher for Women, Study Suggests

A woman lays awake in bed, looking at a clock.
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Trouble sleeping may take a bigger toll on women than on men, a new study from Australia finds.

Women in the study were more likely than men to have sleep disorders that made them feel tired during the day, the researchers found. And women were also more likely to have trouble with memory and concentration due to sleepiness.

"We found that females were more likely to have sleeping disorders associated with daytime sleepiness," study co-author Dr. John Malouf, the founder of the SleepGP sleep clinic in Coolangatta, Australia, said in a statement. "Females were also likely to feel more affected by the burden of their symptoms." [5 Surprising Sleep Discoveries]

In the study, which was published in May in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, the researchers looked at data on nearly 750 adults in Australia who had sought medical care for sleep problems between April 2013 and January 2015. At the time, the people filled out questionnaires about their sleep and overall health.

For example, the questionnaires asked if the people ever had trouble falling asleep and if they felt excessively tired or sleepy during the day. One question asked if the people had trouble concentrating during the day because of sleepiness. In addition, the researchers wanted to know if the participants or their partners snored.

One-third of all people in the study said that they had trouble falling asleep at night, though this was more common among the women than the men. Nearly half of the women reported problems falling asleep, compared with just 27 percent of men.

The women in the study also reported more problems during the day as a result of their sleep problems at night.

For example, nearly half of the women in the study, 49 percent, said they had sleep problems that caused daytime sleepiness, while 37 percent of the men in the study said the same. The researchers also found that 77 percent of the women felt excessively sleepy or tired during the day, compared with 66 percent of the men.

Daytime sleepiness had a significant effect on the women's ability to concentrate during the day; 89 percent of the women said they had trouble concentrating because they were tired, compared with 74 percent of men. And 80 percent of women said that being sleepy led to memory problems, compared with 58 percent of men, the study found. [7 Strange Facts About Insomnia]

The reasons behind these differences between the sexes are unclear, and more research is needed to explore possible reasons, the researchers said. However, previous studies have suggested that hormonal factors as well as anatomical and physiological differences between men and women may play a role, the study said.

Women in the study also seemed to be more affected by their partners' snoring, the research said. Snoring men were more likely to keep their partners awake than snoring women were.

This was particularly apparent when the researchers asked the participants if their snoring had ever forced their partners out of the bedroom. The scientists found that 63 percent of the men who said their snoring kept their partners awake also said that the snoring forced their partners the room; 54 percent of the women who said their snoring kept their partners awake also said that the snoring forced their partners out of the room.

Though the reasons behind the findings on snoring are unclear, it is possible that women are simply more sensitive to their partners' snoring and men have a higher tolerance for their partners' snoring, the researchers said.

Originally published on Live Science.

Staff Writer