Study objectives: To present observational data on the frequency of sleep problems, sleep duration, and sleep medication in an urban female population.
Design: A prospective population study, initiated in 1968-69, with follow-ups in 1974-75, 1980-81, and 1992-93.
Setting: Göteborg, Sweden, with around 445,000 inhabitants.
Participants: 1462 women born in 1908, 1914, 1918, 1922, 1930, and 205 women born in 1942 and 1954, a representative selection of women of the respective age in the general population.
Measurements: Reported number of hours slept per night, sleep problems, use of sleeping pills, and sleep satisfaction.
Results: The frequency of sleep problems increased with age, as did consultations for sleep problems and the use of sleep medication, while no major differences in these parameters could be discerned in a 24-year secular trend analysis of 38- and 50-year-old women, except a lower sleeping pill use in 50-year-old women in 1992-93. An interesting finding was also that the significant reduction of the proportion of 38-year-old women sleeping more than 8 hours per night between 1968-69 and 1980-81 was not accompanied by a secular deterioration in sleep satisfaction in that age group.
Conclusions: Sleep duration decreased by approximately 0.4 hours per night between the ages of 38 and 66. The frequency of sleep problems increased by around 30% between the ages of 38 and 84. The use of sleeping pills also increased, except in the 50-year-old cohort.