Objectives: To gain reliable data on sleeping habits and sleep disturbances of the Austrian population.
Background: Exact data on sleeping habits are of interest in relation to assessment of sleep disturbance-related illnesses and general social processes.
Methods: A prospective, cross-sectional study was performed with recruitment of a representative sample of 1049 Austrians (aged 15-82 years), according to the Federal Statistics population characteristics. Interviews were conducted in the households of the participants by specially trained interviewers of an institute for empirical research.
Results: Men consider their quality of sleep to be significantly better than women (P=0.00234), and younger persons consider their quality of sleep to be significantly better than older persons (P=0.00001). In comparison, women and people over the age of 50 report worse subjective sleep quality, worse sleep efficiency, more difficulty in falling asleep and sleep maintenance, more apneic events, more pathologic limb movements, more daytime dysfunction, and more intake of sleeping medication. Other sociodemographic factors influence sleep reports to a lesser extent.
Conclusions: Subjectively disturbed sleep (prevalence in the total population 24.9%), excessive hypnotic drug intake (prevalence 13.0%), and daytime dysfunction (prevalence 17.4%) are a widespread problem, especially in women and older people. With increasing life expectancy in Western societies, the prevalence of sleep disturbances will increase.