Who has trouble sleeping?

Who can’t sleep? In one presentation, Grandner reviewed responses from 159,856 people who participated in a government survey — one of the largest to gather data on sleep difficulties. Overall, one in five people reported problems with sleep on seven of the 14 nights before the survey. Grandner found little difference among racial and ethnic groups, except for people of Asian ethnicity, who had far fewer problems.

But people in lower socioeconomic levels, especially women, reported more problems. So did divorced and separated people, especially divorced and separated men.

And men who described themselves as homemakers reported sleep problems on par with people who were unemployed (who had high rates of problems).

Perhaps most surprising, the worst sleep seems to occur in men and women ages 18 to 24. “The story with age is fascinating,” Grandner said. “Usually, the common knowledge is that as you get older you have more sleep problems. We found pretty much the opposite.”

It could be that older people are accustomed to sleep disturbances and don’t complain about them, he said. But it still remains to be seen why so many young, ostensibly healthy people are missing out on their sweet dreams.

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