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Published on April 03, 2012

Sleep Problems May Differ Among Men, Women and Children

In Brief

  • Even though we all sleep, there are some differences in the sleep routines of men, women and children.
  • It’s more common for women to suffer from insomnia, the inability to fall or stay asleep.
  • Studies have shown that twice as many men suffer from sleep apnea than women.
  • Adolescents can be sleep deprived just as most adults. Even though children can suffer from the same sleep disorders as adults, the most common among children are snoring/sleep apnea and parasomnias— which include sleepwalking, night terrors and bedwetting.

Sleep is one of the most important parts of living a healthy life. It’s just as essential as water, food and the air that we breathe. Even though we all sleep, there are some differences in the sleep routines of men, women and children.

“It’s more common for women to suffer from insomnia, the inability to fall or stay asleep,” says Michael Weinstein, M.D., pulmonologist and medical director of the Crozer-Keystone Sleep Center at Delaware County Memorial Hospital. “This is often due to that fact that women’s hormones throughout their life cycles, from pregnancy to menopause, affect them in many ways, especially their sleep patterns.”

Insomnia in women can also be caused by anxiety and depression, or other disturbances in sleep — like a snoring bed partner. Snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea, which is a sleep disorder most common in men.

“Studies have shown that twice as many men suffer from sleep apnea than women,” says Asad Khan, M.D., pulmonologist and medical director of the Crozer-Keystone Sleep Center at Brinton Lake. “Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts throughout the night. With obstructive sleep apnea, the most common form of sleep apnea, a person snores loudly with pauses in their breathing, followed by the person gasping for air.”

The second type of sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, is far less common. It occurs when your brain fails to transmit signals to your breathing muscles. People who suffer from central sleep apnea often wake up with shortness of breath or have a difficulty getting or staying asleep.

“Sleep is very different in children and varies depending on the age,” says Vatsala Ramprasad, M.D., pediatric pulmonologist and medical director of the Crozer-Keystone Pediatric Sleep Center at Crozer-Chester Medical Center. “Infants have no set sleep pattern until they are a few months of age, and that can last up to 6 months of age, when they consolidate sleep into day and nighttime sleep. Pre-pubescent children have the best sleep out of any age group, because most of them get a very deep sleep.”

Adolescents can be sleep deprived just as most adults. Even though children can suffer from the same sleep disorders as adults, the most common among children are snoring/sleep apnea and parasomnias ― which include sleepwalking, night terrors and confusional arousals.

“No matter what a person’s age or gender is, proper sleep hygiene is important for all of us,” says Calvin Stafford, M.D., medical director of the Crozer-Keystone Sleep Center at Taylor Hospital. “Scientific studies have proven that proper rest is vital for growth, memory function and the function of our immune systems. Our resources at the Crozer-Keystone sleep centers can help people of all ages to achieve the proper night’s sleep.”

Crozer-Keystone’s sleep program is the oldest nationally accredited sleep program in the Delaware Valley. Crozer-Keystone uses the latest technology, and the health system’s sleep specialists and physicians are specially trained in the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders. We can treat a full-range of sleep disorders in adults and children, including sleep apnea, narcolepsy, restless legs syndrome, insomnia, REM behavior disorder and more.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment at one of the Crozer-Keystone Sleep Centers, call 1-888-SLEEP-03 (1-888-753-3703) or visit http://sleepcenters.crozerkeystone.org.

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