UAE women face higher sleep difficulties than men, doctors say

Studies suggest one out of every five women may experience sleep issues


Nandini Sircar

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Published: Sun 11 Feb 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Mon 12 Feb 2024, 3:30 PM

Women in the UAE encounter higher rates of sleep difficulties compared to men, following the global trend. One out of every five women may experience sleep issues, according to statistics.

“This problem is among the least addressed issues in the UAE, which explains how critical it is to spread knowledge about sleep issues and provide solutions,” said Dr Vivek Karan, consultant neurologist at Thumbay University Hospital.

Chronic sleep deprivation is also considered to be one of the main causes of morbidity worldwide.

“Long-term sleep deprivation has far-reaching consequences that include a host of health problems. These include aches in the muscles, joints, and cramps, all of which can have a negative effect on a person's physical health,” said Karan.

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Dr Vivek Karan.
Dr Vivek Karan.

Chronic sleep deprivation has also been connected to issues with mental health, such as the onset of depression. “There have also been reports of behavioural changes, including elevated fearfulness, impatience, and anger management problems,” he added.

Being female is one of the risk factors

Healthcare professionals reveal causes of insomnia in women can stem from hormonal changes, stress, and restless leg syndrome.

Dr Taleb Abdurahim  Rooeintan.
Dr Taleb Abdurahim Rooeintan.

Some women may face an elevated risk due to factors like pregnancy and menopause.

Dr Taleb Abdurahim Rooeintan, specialist neurology, Burjeel Specialty Hospital, Sharjah, said: “Being female is considered one of the risk factors for insomnia. While there is no specific statistic available for insomnia in the UAE, globally, 20-30 per cent of people suffer from some form of sleep disorder.”

The reasons attributed to sleep deprivation include “older age, personal or family history of insomnia, social isolation, life stress, chronic pain, psychiatric disorders, chronic medical and neurologic conditions, selected medications, alcohol and substance use and other sleep disorders”.

A recent study showed that 65 per cent of UAE residents lack proper sleep and that heavy smartphone usage is one of the reasons for sleep deprivation.

What triggers insomnia

It's crucial to bear in mind that various cultural and professional factors, like jet lag, delayed night meals, late work shifts, prolonged screen time, and caring for young children until late can have disruptions in natural sleep patterns, contributing to fatigue. The standard duration for regular sleep is typically six to nine hours daily.

Dr Kholoud Omar.
Dr Kholoud Omar.

Scientific research indicates that sleep comprises distinct stages (light sleep, REM sleep, deep sleep), and the body requires a specific amount of time in each stage for various bodily functions to recover.

“Research clearly suggests that women are more prone to sleep disorders than men. Managing sleep deprivation involves adopting a consistent sleep schedule, creating a relaxing bedtime routine, and addressing underlying causes such as stress. Seeking medical advice is crucial for persistent sleep issues,” said Dr Kholoud Omar, general practitioner, Prime Medical Center - Rahmania Mall.


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